Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, February 13, 2012

Changing My Revision to a Re-Vision

Revising Song of the Day: "When Can I See You Again" by Babyface

So last June, Quita and I had the pleasure of attending a novel revision retreat with none other than editor extraordinaire, Cheryl Klein--which we blogged about here. You see, I was there to primarily focus on Wants, but Project J wouldn't stop nagging me. Psst, it kept saying to me, remember how much awesome potential I had?

Remember I did--so now I'm taking a stab at another round of revisions to make it the humorous, yet heartfelt, novel that I know it can be. Not that these revisions are easy (but are ANY revisions?). Sure, I love revisiting the story and characters, but I'm putting WAY too much pressure on myself to make it awesome and shiny and perfect...so much so that I've cried out in despair to both Quita and my lovely agent just like this:

Okay, maybe I wasn't that dramatic, but I was pretty close. So, when we're this overwhelmed with revisions, what can we do to take the proverbial chill pill and just get 'em done? Well, I take to heart something the awesome Cheryl Klein said at the aforementioned retreat:

Try not to think of it as a revision, but a re-vision.

I may not remember the exact wording, but the message still resonates with me. Now I'm asking myself: How else do I see this story? What else can I do to help it reach its full potential?

1. Reread the story (duh). But this time while I was reading, I made notes of the scenes I HAD to keep, and the ones that I could probably do without. The same can be done for characters.

2. Write scenes out of order. I have been a tried and true plotter, starting from Point A to Point B. But for this revision, I'm starting to think of scenes that I would have liked to include in the previous drafts. You know how most DVDs have deleted scenes? And you know how sometimes you're like: why didn't they keep that scene? It kicks ass! Well, that's what I'm doing for Project J--and hopefully these outtakes will find a home in the actual manuscript.

3. Just let the protagonist lead the way. A few weeks ago, I posted about taking personality tests for your characters. After doing so, I "found" Jonah again, and just started letting him speak to me. Sure, that may sound crazy to some, but I'm amongst my brethren here. Hopefully, you all understand what I mean. What he tells me to write may hit the cutting room floor, but get it down on paper first, weed it out later. That's how a re-vision should be.

So, despite the initial panic, I think I'm slowly but surely finding my groove with this revision. I've come to terms that while the overall story may stay the same, the way I get there may be different. And I'm okay with that.

So, do you all have any revision tips you'd be willing to share?


Rebecca B said...

I like this "re-vision" instead of revision idea. Thanks for the tips!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Great post and awesome tips. Revisions are so hard. But, my greatest suggestion is just to take some time away from the MS to let it simmer a bit and your head to gain some distance.

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Good luck! Thanks for sharing these tips. I really want to get my hands on Cheryl Klein's book.

Racquel Henry said...

I like the term re-vision. I'll have to keep that in mind while I edit. :)