Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Thursday, March 11, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed...Revise, Revise Again

Workout Song of the Day: "Drop the World" by Lil Wayne ftg. Eminem

I'll be the first to admit it--I'm not a fan of criticism. Neither giving it or receiving it. In workshops, even when I know that someone's writing isn't exactly up to par, I'll sugarcoat it with the most random compliments. I love the main character's name. That one line was really funny!

And when I receive something outside of adulation in my own writing, I may react a little like this...

I'm completely distraught. I wave my fists at the world. Then I drop the story and move on to something else.

Until now.

If you haven't noticed, I've been a little (okay, a lot) absent from my blog. That's because I've been a.) working on the first draft of my thesis paper, and b.) finally completing my first novel! We interrupt this post for a brief booty-shaking dance:

With that said and done, I read over it, allowed my cousin to read over it, made a few minor changes, and shipped it off to my dream agent.
I think you know what happened next.
I was pretty lucky, though. My dream agent took out extra time from her busy schedule to actually provide me notes. How awesome is that? Additionally, she said that I could try her again in a few months.
So, even though I am nowhere near the guru of revising, here is my plan of action:
  1. Find beta readers besides my cousin. Don't get me wrong, I heart my cousin, and she gives me the morale boost I need to not just toss away this crazy notion of becoming a published writer. But we're practically the same person. And if you've encountered either of us, that's pretty scary. So I need maybe two or three others that can give me a fresh perspective on my novel. I plan on visiting the Absolute Write Water Cooler and Verla Kay Blue Boards to put in my requests. And if you haven't by now, check out both of these sites--they're on my sidebar!
  2. Put my manuscript away. For a while. Maybe even for a month or two. This story is very personal to me, and I love all my characters. But it's kind of like spending time with your family--you need to see them in small doses or you'll get a little irritated. I don't want my frustration to steer my story in the wrong direction.
  3. Read all the input from my beta readers. Then,
  4. Work on the major suggestions first. Does a character need to be changed? Does a side-plot not work? I know it seems crazy to tackle the huge issues first, but this is how I always did homework. I got history out of the way (boo! hiss!), and then rewarded myself with English.
  5. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I know that this process seems lengthy, but if I want to be serious about the writing business, I definitely need to be serious about revising. What about you all? What's your revising process? What works and what doesn't work? I need all the help I can get!


M. Hockaday said...

YAY! I am so flippin' proud of you :) And thanks for spelling out the process- it's helpful for me to read it like that :) By the way, did I say, FREAKIN' YEAH!!!!! I am so, so happy for you- and for the rest of your followers of Pam's blog- you might want to ask to be her beta reader because her novel is STUPID GOOD! It is soooooo heart wrenching, thought provoking, fun, moody- everything! It won't leave you and you will be able to say that you read the best-seller in it's early stages.

LM Preston said...

Writing is a lot of work, but I have to admit, it's addictive.

Mike Chen said...

I might have gone excessive but my Local Band is in its 10th revision. I think the first four or five revisions were me trying to figure out how to bring together my writing style and a novel-length work. I know that the writing/outlining process was much easier on successive manuscripts.

I think you can always revise -- there's always something that will stick out. But for major revisions, you sometimes have to let go of your preconceptions. I went into my last revision on a mission to cut as many words as possible. After getting some feedback from a few writer pals, I really got into a rhythm of asking "is it vital?" and cutting it if the answer was no. It SUCKED cause I killed some of my favorite lines, but so it goes...

Pam Harris said...

Great suggestions, Mike! I think I have a problem with letting go, but I so need to get over myself. And thanks Quita--please don't tell anyone I paid you to write that. :)