Posts tagged ‘revisions’

March 18th, 2011

Bags of Flour and Their Relevence to Our Books

by Madeleine Rex

The two weeks before winter break, about a quarter of the kids at my school were wandering the halls, babies in tow. 16-year-olds leaned against lockers in the Commons, their babies dressed in onesies and hats, snug in the crook of their arm. They wandered through the Arts Building, through the Multi-Purpose Room, down the E Hall, the C Hall…

I’d have to say the things that disturbed me most were the chopped off babydoll heads that were glued onto the bags of flower. A friend of mine stooped so low as to chop legs and a head off a teddy bear and attach them to her “baby.”

Freshmen like myself take PE all year, and sophomores take Health. I get the impression that the “drag your bag of flour around for two weeks” assignment is a crucial one. I’m guessing the official purpose of the assignment is to teach the students parenting skills, but I’d bet the lesson most of the kids get out of it goes along the lines of: “Wow. Towing this baby around all day totally gets in the way of my texting. I need both hands!” Thus, the assignment serves as a more subtle way to say, “At least use protection.”

I have a point. Promise.

Let’s say that books are babies, and obviously, we are parents. Some of us rushed through the whole experience, writing 15,000 words a week, and at the end of the month were left with wrist pains and a manuscript/baby.

Others thought, “Why not?” but didn’t really make an effort. They moved fairly quickly, but they weren’t sucking 5 Hour Energies down and staying up into the wee hours of the night. The baby that landed in their lap was surprising, but not necessarily a surprise.

And then there are those who examine their financial stability, the time they have to spend at home, the schools in the neighborhood… those who plan meticulously and then move at a steady, intentional rate toward, uh, birth.

(May I request that you ignore the creepiness of this analogy? Moving on…)

However they got there, they end up with same thing – a manuscript/baby.

With a baby comes responsibility. There are logical steps to take – bottles, pacifier, crib, car seat, stroller – and they must be taken. There should be no compromise. The baby needs particular things in order to grow, develop, and thrive.

See where I’m going? No? I’m just freaking you out?

I took the middle road when writing my book. I moved fairly quickly, but I wavered and wandered down out-of-the-way pathways, feeling my way through and going with the flow. When I finished the first draft, I was left with this alien object – I was in a sort of shock despite all the hours I’d put in. Amidst this awe was one undeniable fact: I had to take care of it now.

The Lemonites needed and continues to need constant support, nourishment, guidance, and love. How I take care of my baby reflects my diligence – just as the kids who showed up to Health with a flour bag completely intact and dismembered babydoll head screwed on tight all earned an A. They tackled their problems and slammed them to the ground, thereby excepting their responsibility as a “parent.”

As writers with young, impressionable books – books that would flounder and wander down forbidden paths if it weren’t for our care and guidance – it’s our job to take the necessary steps toward a healthy, productive life for them. It is our job to make certain that our books/babies meet their potential. Steps such as revision, revision, revision, revision, revision, and then queries.

Slap on those babydoll heads, wrestle into those onesies, because it’s time to take the hand of our WIPs and pull them out of murky waters. Lead them to a bright, prosperous future.

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)!