Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Revision madness for a pantser

I'm a pantser. It's important for me to say that upfront. My best ideas come during the writing process when I zone out and just start writing. I type sickly fast, so often I'm typing way faster than I can think through what I've written. Hence the need for revision. But I've found revision to be the most difficult part for me as a writer and I believe that's because I'm a pantser. It goes against the grain. So I've created a method that helps me to revise quickly, but to also maintain my pantser roots. See what you think.
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First: I prefer to write and revise chronologically. This means that when I receive edits from my editor, I map them out based upon which Act and chapter the scene resides. If the edit is something more basic like "need to ground the reader" or "more worldbuilding" or "need to introduce Joe earlier," then I make sure that change is implemented across several chapters. This allows the change to flow more naturally with the rest of my narration.
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Second: I open an Excel file (you could do this with Scrivener if you have it) and list out the chapters within Act 1 and what needs to happen in each chapter.
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Third: I open a new Word file (yep, a brand new sparkly doc) and dive in, rewriting as necessary and pulling from my old draft as necessary. I will say that I have to tweak everything (even solid old material) to ensure the story reads organically.
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Fourth: I print out the revised Act and read through before moving on to the next Act.
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So that is how I revise. How about you? What is your process?
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~ Melissa

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I used to be a big-time plotter. For a couple stories I planned EVERYTHING out before I wrote, but I never finished either of them. Hmm. So, for my latest story I came up with an outline for the beginning, wrote some, outlined some more...etc.

    Revising is also difficult for me. I haven't come up with a firm method yet, but I like your idea of starting with a spanking new document.

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  2. Melissa, we may be revision twins.

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  3. Rain -- I've tried to be a plotter as well and I find my stories lack life when I confine myself in that way. I wish I were a plotter, though!

    Mirka -- Yay! Glad to see I'm not the only one that revises the hard way. :)

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  4. That's very similar to how I'm working on my current revisions, which are of the "let's ground the reader and drop some bread crumbs" variety.

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  5. I've always been so in awe of pantsers. I just can't do it! :)

    But we do have the Excel spreadsheet in common -- this is exactly what I do too!

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  6. Anne -- And don't you find those "ground the reader" tricks so hard sometimes. We, as the author, know too much about our story. :)

    Karen -- Ah, I can see you as a plotter. :) I wish I were. I plan on buying Schrivener soon so it'll be interesting to see if I like it as much as my Excel method. We get so set in our ways, ya know?

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  7. I go through several rounds of revisions looking for different things each time. I love to print the manuscript out and use colored post it flags to mark the passing of time and major events. I'm a visual person and seeing it like that is amazing.

    I find revising based on my agent's edits much easier. She's very helpful and gives me suggestions for fixing. I do something similar to you though. I like to look at my previous version and write the rewrite separately so I can pull what's working from what's not.

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  8. Kelly -- Yeah, I totally agree re: agent. Though I chose not to sign with an agent, I do find my editors comments to be tremendously helpful. I often have "oh yeah!" moments.

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