Archive for ‘Thoughts on Editing’

January 28th, 2011

Wordbird Says (1): Revisions

by Madeleine Rex

Thanks to Yahong Chi, who took the time to send me a much beloved email to put me out of my misery!

Yahong asked:

Hey Madeleine,

I’d love to see revision tips. In the midst of trying to rewrite a few scenes, and it’s killing me because I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!
So, yeah, that’d be helpful. 😀

Best,
Yahong

As most of you know, I’ve just begun edits on The Lemonites. A few weeks ago, when I was still daunted by and whimpering at the thought of diving in, I posted a tragic and pathetic post. A woman named Susan Dennard commented and offered her help – and she’s one of my favorite people now.

Susan has a fantastic take on edits, one that makes the horrific experience much, much easier. I have finished part one of her six step process and will begin part two today.

Susan’s plan is deliberate and methodical, which may or may not work for you. In essence, my views on editing efficiently and writing efficiently are similar. There are a few things that are crucial to writing anything:

  • Try on different options. Approach outlining/free-writing/whatever in a myriad of ways before designating one as your personal process. There are so many ways to write a novel, and only one (or a few if you’re lucky) that works for you. I wrote my first novel after completing an outline so detailed that it amounted to a novel (though terrible) in and of itself. The magic of writing and the fun of it was diminished. Similarly, there are plenty of ways to edit, but only a few that are yours.
  • Set a goal. I wasn’t writing productively until I set myself a strict word count or time period to write. The daily goals (could be a week or a month, depending on what you prefer) motivated me and allowed me to feel spurts of success that encouraged me to keep moving. When working through part one of edits, I told myself I’d be done by the end of a particular week, and I was.
  • Diligence is key. Without pushing yourself to work even when it sounds unexciting, you lose the self-discipline that you need to drive you. As unemployed/unagented/etc. writers, we don’t have someone whipping us into shape and keeping us in line. There’s only me, myself, and I to keep me from slacking.
  • I know you were probably looking for something more specific. I can’t divulge Susan’s process here – it’s hers entirely – but it’s likely you could come up with something on your own. Sit down in front of a word document and type a ten-step process. Read through it. Could you handle those goals? Is the process too analytical, methodical, or laid-back? What do your personality and your tendencies warrant?

    If you’d still like to see others’ plans, I’d check out Susan’s blog. She goes into her editing process, though she only skims through it. If you like what you see, I’m sure she’d be willing to lend a hand.

    I hope I helped! If anybody else would like to ask a question/leave a comment/say something seemingly random, click the “Contact Me” to the left (please, please do)!