Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Methods of Revision

My friend Margaret is running an intensive workshop at Forward Motion this month about the use of an outline for revising a novel (or short story).

I decided to begin work on my 2006 Nano, The Girl Who Cried Squid to take advantage of the workshop, so I've been spending time beginning the analysis of the novel's structure and how the subplots tie into the main plot. This kind of thinking hurts my head. I'm not sure why. I don't know if the whole story comes into my mind with such a whoosh (don't I wish!) that it doesn't seem to have parts, or if I'm just darn good at weaving in the subplots so well that the main plot can't stand up without them. Either way, it's hard to separate out the parts and look at them objectively.

After the revision of Marks took me the majority of last year, it occurs to me that there might be an easier way to do things. Or at least a way that keeps better track of where I've been and where I'm going. So this time around I'm trying Mar's way. I suppose it would be an improvement if I got most of the headaches out of the way at the beginning!

That's not to say I'm ignoring Quest to be Queen. That edit remains my top current priority, and I've processed nearly 7K so far this week.

I'm curious. How do you revise things? How much do you analyze and plan? Or do you just jump in and hope for the best? And how does that relate to how you wrote the story in the first place?


Maripat said...

Um...I extensively outline BEFORE I write the very first word. And no, my way is not perfect. (OH Mia...) But for me even Mia was a learning experience. I ended up having to re-outline which is something I never had to do before.

Yeah, yeah, I should've listened to my characters.

Valerie Comer said...

I extensively outline before writing the first draft also, though I suspect you have more detail than I do, Maripat.

I'm not certain this extent is necessary for every book, but I'm guessing that when one is severely dreading a revision or it isn't going well (Marks of Repentance, for me) I should've taken a week or two out to have a more solid plan.

Karenee said...

What a perfect chance to tell you something I've been intending to tell you. Visit this guy's site. I just picked up one of his books a couple days ago, and since then have bought the rest that are available. He has an amazing grasp of character development... but... more than that, you'll love the commentary on his writing that he put up on his site. I read the books, then read the comments on writing the books and learned tons. You'll see. He does have a free unpublished book available there. He's still working on it, and he's incredibly transparent about how he thinks about the problems and such in the story, etc. I thought you'd find it interesting during all that free time you have. *grin*

fiorinda said...

I'm a plunger-inner when it comes to revision. I stink at outlines. I keep trying, but I never actually use them once they are written. Sometimes things surprise me when they change when I'm least expecting it.

Did I tell you I am adding 2 more characters to accompany my guys on their journey? That's got me right now. I've got to come up with a story for them. So I guess now I am rewriting rathen than revising.