Monday, January 11, 2010

Revision Hell Revisited -- The Light at the End of the Tunnel

As I've mentioned before, I'm in the midst of revising my YA ms and it's been an interesting process -- read what you will into the word interesting. So last week, I came across an amazing checklist for each phase of the revision process on Natalie Whipple's blog. On one hand, it was great to recognize that I'm in that final, third phase -- what I call the "tweaking" stage. On the other hand, I was under the assumption that this last stage would be a piece of cake. I thought if major things like plot, story arc, and characterization were good to go, how long could it possibly take to tweak? Right. Can you tell this is my first YA ms? Now I know why something that takes 6 weeks to write can take 6 months to revise.

Here's what I've learned thus far about the revision process:

1) Revisions are like rabbits. You think you take care of one -- then you
turn around and there are 20 more staring at you, and not in a cute bunny
kind of way.
2) Don't use chocolate as a revision reward. Or if you do reward yourself
with chocolate, such as after revising each chapter, write fewer chapters.
Your waistline will thank you. NOTE: I'm totally kidding -- I sometimes
reward myself after each page! Chocolate rocks.
3) It's better to mark revisions on your manuscript with a purple pen.
Some red pen purists out there will disagree here, but corrections don't
seem quite so harsh when written in pretty colors.
4) Tweaking takes FOREVER. I'm at the stage of agonizing over every word
choice, verb, sentence structure, etc. and my eyes are crossing. I flew
through the first few revisions and this one is killing me -- I'm lucky if I
get through 10 pages a night. Please tell me this part gets easier/faster
with each completed novel. Even if it's not true, somebody please lie to me.
5) Revisions make your book better. Okay, this seems obvious. Like
when the NFL announcer says the key to winning the game is scoring the
most points. However, this last one if the reason I don't hate this process.
Yes, it's painful at times. Yes, there are nights I want to pull my hair out.
However, now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- just barely,
mind you -- it's still dim and looks like it's miles away. Yet, just knowing
it's there gives me the rush I need to get to the finish line.

What stage of the revision process do you find most challenging? How do you reward yourself? Note: if your answer to this one is that the process itself is its own reward, I don't want to hear from you.

Agent Mary Kole also has some fabulous revision posts such as this one. They can all be found on her Kidlit blog. Any other great revision posts you'd like to share?


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  2. I printed my completed MS, and then we through it with a red pen (I like the red pen, but purple sounds nice too),marked it up and made detailed notes with page numbers on what I wanted to fix on that page. It made things a lot easier.

  3. Yeah, the domino effect is fun! I know others like the red pen too but it makes me feel like I'm back in school:)

  4. Ah, the dreaded revisions. Here's my pet peeve of revisions. If you change one itty bitty thing in the beginning of the book, it makes a ripple effect throughout. So, by the end, there are these huge waves where the plot doesn't match the beginning. So much work! But so worth it.

    Also, I have one reader who always draws hearts and smiley faces by any type of comment she makes. That way she she says something like, "your main character is so retarded! *heart, smiley, heart*" it doesn't hurt nearly so bad!

  5. Bethany - I love the smiley face idea. I might have to try that.


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