Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Longer I Write, The More Complicated Revisions Get

Back when I first started this is how I revised:

1. Read the story immediately after I write The End.
2. Make minor fixes, because this book is brilliant. The best I've ever written.
3. Call it done and send to CP.

I bet you can imagine how those stories read.

Fast forward a few years, and many critiques later.

1. Avoid story at all cost for two weeks.
2. Open Word doc. Cringe. Make minor changes. Close.
3. Repeat second step. This time just deleting everything that makes me cringe or re-write it completely.
4. Repeat third step. This time just deleting more and more crap.
5. Open Word doc. Reel back in chair from shock. Double check I actually wrote the book. I always did, but disbelief that the first craptastic draft now sparkles requires confirmation from outside source. Make final and minor changes. Send to CP.

What I learned from that first year until now is that my first drafts are outlines for the actual story. Doesn't matter if I have tons of pages of character interviews, GMC and the three act structure laid out. That lumpy, ball of misshapen words I call a WIP is really just a detailed outline of what the real story is about.

Once I've sat down and wrote out the detailed outline I may realize the original GMC was only surface level. The first turning point isn't when they kiss, it's after they kiss. In a small scene that has no real fanfare but that's when the change begun. It's the first time the character stepped out their comfort zone and screwed the pooch called their old life.

And the simple truth is at the end of that first draft 90 percent of the story is still in my head. I did not get it on the page. The truth attached to this idea is that before the first draft I didn't know what needed to be on the page. So, yeah the revision process has gotten more complicated, but I wouldn't go back to the first method.

7 comments:

  1. Glad you're working it out! And I can't wait to read your sparkly new wip. Still waiting on Sasha's by the way... Just sayin' :o)

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    1. Lol I'm still cringing every time I open Sasha's story up and read that first chapter. I'm going to give it two more weeks, less probably and let you take a whack at it.

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  2. I'm sure its not cringeworthy ;o) Can't wait to read x

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  3. What a wonderful write up, Sofia. I wish every writer that submits to us at White Cat Magazine could read your post. In fact, I just might mention it if you don't mind.

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  4. "And the simple truth is at the end of that first draft 90 percent of the story is still in my head."

    It must be rough after a two week pause following writing 'The End' to come back and fill in 90% of the book. :)

    I edit and hone constantly as I write because having the flow of the story fresh in my mind helps me in subsequent scenes. Many of my writer friends have told me they'd never finish a WIP if they did it that way. That's what happens when adventure fiction gets written by an auto mechanic. :)

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    1. "It must be rough after a two week pause following writing 'The End' to come back and fill in 90% of the book. :)"

      My reaction is usually "Well f***!" I'm classy like that. It smooths the roughness though.

      "I edit and hone constantly as I write because having the flow of the story fresh in my mind helps me in subsequent scenes."

      That would drive me nuts and the story would never get done. But, I'm all for whatever works. And it works for you.

      "That's what happens when adventure fiction gets written by an auto mechanic. :)"

      *Insert pun about the nuts and bolts of writing.* :)

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