Monday, October 4, 2010

The Heart and Brains.... PART 1

Happy Monday! This week I'm starting a short series of posts on Revision.

*Boo Hiss* *Wrinkles nose* *Pretends to barf*

Nah, it's not that bad. I actually really like the first round of revsion. Why? Because I get to read my story as a whole and savor the tale I've told. I've mentioned before why I think the first draft is just a backbone of  a story. It's skeletal, which is fine. It's a start. It's in the first, second, and third rounds of revision that we go back and add the heart and brains of the characters, dialogue, setting, narrative, etc.

I know what you're thinking... Who the heck am I to be giving advice? I'm just a pre-published writer. BUT I've been studying the craft like a madwoman. I devour anything that teaches me how to be a better writer and storyteller. So I'm simply sharing with you what I've already learned. We're all on different levels, but we all have the same goal: to be a darn good writer!

Here's my checklist for the first round of revisions: (Think Big Picture)

* Does the plot make sense?
*Is the structure sound? (Beginning, Middle, Ending)
*How are the POVs or POV? Is there a distinct, consistent voice?
*Any plot holes or motive unexplained?
*Is there too much summary? Are there places you can turn into actual scenes?
*Are the scenes in the right order? Should they be moved around?
*Does each scene/action move the story forward and contain some kind of conflict?
*Is the timeline consistent?
*Is there too much description in certain places? Is the description coming through the correct POV?
*Anything not make sense? Do you need to add any flashbacks to help it make sense?
*Can any characters be combined because they're too similar?

Sometimes it helps if you can read as if you're an editor. An editor would notice things like too much backstory, or characters with very little depth.

Jessica Morrell suggests printing out your manuscript in a different font than the one you wrote it in. This will help give you new eyes for the story you already know. Mistakes are much easier to pick up from a hard copy.

I haven't tried the different font, but it sounds like an awesome idea. I'm finding that with my most recent ms, Float, I've been through it at least six times with different beta readers. Everyone will find something different. And even though you may feel a sense of completion after the first round.... the big fact is of the matter is that you ain't done!

So how many times do you revise before calling it a finished ms and sending it out to the wolves? Any tricks of the trade that help you add in the heart and brains?

And yeah... that one's all mine up there. Gotta claim him. My sweet, destructive little kindergartner. :)


Mary said...

Great list! I've heard of the font thing before, too, but haven't used it. I found just increasing the magnification of the page I am reading makes me notice things I wouldn't have before. (I work on a netbook with a 10 inch screen, so increasing the size makes a HUGE difference).

Catana/Sylvie Mac said...

We both have somewhat the same view: the first draft is a skeleton. Great list of things to pay attention to. One I've had to add to my own list: are the characters coming across as real people? I have a tendency to let my characters talk but not express emotions.

Even if I had a printer, I wouldn't waste the ink and paper. I change the font and size, and that really makes a difference. A larger size lets you see little problems that you might not notice otherwise, especially punctuation errors.

salarsenッ said...

I think you've covered quite a bit. Printing the ms out in a different font sounds good. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks. Hey, I just launched a short story writers contents. Come check it out. I'm excited. Thanks.

MT said...

I should probably get a better understanding of exactly what a plot hole is, huh? ;)

Florence said...

I think it's in the wind today. That, I don't know what the %^#$ this is all about but WTF ... I'll keep doing it anyway. It's alright to sing the blues

Hey the kid is a doll and didn't he sum up what we all feel?

Great post :)

Quinn said...

I hadn't heard about changing the font. I do print out hard copies though when I'm doing edits. You catch a lot more that way. Good list of questions!

JEFritz said...

How many times do I revise? Probably not enough. Good tip with the font changing. I always find it hard to look at my own work with an objective eye.

Kathryn said...

That's a good list to have around - I'll need that when I do my first round of edits shortly!

Hannah Kincade said...

ooh, I like the different font idea! I'm going to try that!! Also, thanks for the questions, I'm always looking to add to my first round revision list. Sigh. So much work ahead of me.

Regina said...

I've never thought about putting it in a different Font but glad that you mentioned it. It is worth a try. Thanks for another great post.