Revisioner’s history

I apologize for the lack of meat in this blog post sandwich because this Mamacita is on deadline. A personal deadline, but one nonetheless. But I thought I’d be done with this book by now. The end is so near, guys. So near.

I wrote 62 scenes using Lisa Cron’s Story Genius method, but despite the great outline bones, the story is lacking its organs, flesh, pulse. So I went through each scene and made revision notes on index cards. Everything from what day of the week the scene is set to what my characters are wearing to who’s in the scene to what major things I need to add, cut, or just plain ol’ fix. It’s a chaotic system based off notes in a notebook and ideas I got in the shower and thoughts I had while washing the dishes. But I’m excited to see me pull it off. Also, I was delighted to discover my writing isn’t as awful as I thought. I mean, it’s a rough draft, so still not great, but not horrendous. I am a natural editor. I live for revision. I hate drafting.

Below you can see my index cards: numbered with various ink colors to distinguish parts so I can read them easily. And my notebook (the second one) where I let my brain vomit so I can clean up the mess later. It’s all part of the process.

How do you revise?

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Author: Kimberly G. Giarratano

I'm a YA author. And mom of 3. I'm also tired. Very, very tired.

10 thoughts on “Revisioner’s history”

  1. Argh! There’s a loaded question. This happens to me so often, getting close to the end of the draft and then floundering. I do the same thing with the note cards, but I also add differently colored note cards for what the villain is doing simultaneously in the story, whether or not he/she appears. That will often give me a spark that allows me to finish the story.

    I wrote a post on this subject after a workshop I attended in July where a group of writers brainstormed each other’s WIPs. My post was called The Sparkle of Brainstorming (sorry, I can’t get the linking to work!) The key to that brainstorming session was when other writers ask you questions about your plot and characters, and those questions force you to dig deeper. I was able to finish one troublesome manuscript this way. Good luck! I truly feel your pain.

  2. Your revision process looks neater than mine. I’m always writing down notes like yours and losing them. Looks like you’re making great progress.

  3. I outline, so my beginning draft process looks like your ending draft process. I don’t edit as I go, but while I’m drafting I’ll add notes on page 87 about things I need to go back and add or fix on page 22. I print out the day’s pages at the end of the day and place them in a 3-ring binder. When I’m done with the draft, I go back to the pages and clean up language (I don’t stop when I’m drafting to use the right word or phrase or staging. Lots of things are ‘nice’ or ‘beautiful’ and people laugh a lot.). And I fix all those things in brackets. “Make sure such-and-such happens” … “Did I already say this?” … “describe better.” Then I type the changes and print a clean copy and plan to have 2 or 3 days when I can sit and read it as straight through as possible, adding sticky notes to the pages as I go. At this point I’m trying to see if it all holds together. Then I’ll make another pass through, usually padding with better description and all those atmosphere layers we’ve been talking about. And then I hit the bestseller list. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

  4. Story Genius is on my list to read! I’m still fine tuning my revision process with each manuscript, but after finishing a zero draft I take notes on a yellow legal pad (there’s nothing quite like a fresh legal pad…) and then start a brand new Scrivener document and pretty much rewrite the whole thing. After that draft, I print out the manuscript and make notes on what needs changing, maybe leveraging the yellow legal pad for brainstorming, and rinse & repeat until it’s polished. Again, though, I feel like my method continues to evolve from story to story!

  5. Painfully.

    Joke aside, usually I do a fast read-through on paper, mark the bumpy, lumpy stuff in red pen and then go back on the computer and compose. In the middle of the process, I do an outline of the book as written and then stare at the outline to look for holes and slumps. Then the red-pen method again before I think it’s done. Or I’m done.

    I have done the index card thing at the beginning when I’m drafting the first outline of the story. It helps a lot.

    I have Story Genius in TBR pile closest to my reading chair. Looking forward to it.

  6. My revision process changes with each book. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a system. Love hearing about all of yours though.

  7. Fingers crossed for you, Kimberly. I use Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid. The first time I used it, I used it as a revision process, the second, I kept track of the multiple columns during the writing. Helped a lot. It’s a simple grid based on the standard scene/sequel intensities. Get through your edits, take a deep breath, and you’ll be fine. Always remember, you’ve done this before. Big Hug.

  8. As a reader, I just love hearing about the writing process. We readers reap the benefits of all your hard work. Thanks a bunch.

  9. I’m in the middle of revisions. I’d intended to get the final self-edits out to my beta readers by last Sunday or Monday, but was flat on my back with some weird flu and my entire schedule is kaput.

    I do a quick read through with a red pen first. While I incorporate those changes, more things usually pop up. Now, I’m about 25% through text-too-speech. It helps me catch incorrect words (“now” vs.”know”), unnecessary words and repeated words. Oh, and for this one I’m putting flags every time I mention backstory. I’m concerned I have too much.

    After I get this taken care of, I might or might not do a another read through, and then send it off to my eight beta readers, which could possibly result in eight more revisions, depending. Then, finally, I send the whole thing off to my editor who makes my brain bleed so much I love her.

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