Over the months, I’ve alluded to a sequel: Steel Rose. Steel Rose wound up with its own cast of characters, so I can’t call it a sequel any more. Maybe this is good. At workshops, speakers have advised everyone to put their manuscripts aside for a few weeks, and then rework them. I put Steel Rose on the back burner while I worked on Starship Invasions. Now I’m back with fresh eyes, and I brought along my Autocrit program.
Putting the manuscript aside was the best advice anyone gave me. When I went back to it, I found a lot of inconsistencies and need for line editing. The big thing was repetition. One chapter was cluttered with “that.” There is nothing wrong with using “that” or “was,” but those words shouldn’t clutter the pages. In this, Word has been a staunch alley with its find and thesaurus features. Since I’ve gotten into publishing books and marathon revisions, I’ve made peace with Word, and I’m starting to appreciate its assets.
But let me not digress. The more revisions I make, the more I see that need to be done. Writing comes naturally, but introducing characters that people love can be difficult. The body language needs work, and I’ve seen that with others’ manuscripts. I found research helpful, and even more, the critiques I get from my writer’s group. Reading out loud enabled me to catch problems if I stumbled over sentences.
Some days, the revisions come easy, especially after a good night’s sleep. Other days, it might take three or four of my best curse words to do the job, especially when life gets in the way. On the bad days, I try to remind myself I’m making progress. And if later, an editor should suggest revisions, I will consider that person a good friend. It is better to fix the problems before the manuscript goes to print, than to have a reviewer or reader comment on them later.
That said, I have to wonder how Jonathan Maberry and other great writers get through the revision process. With deadlines, you have to move fast. I can edit fast. I have to sometimes for the NTD tales but revising comes slow. Perhaps if necessity was involved, I’d speed up my revisions.
I’d like to hear about your revising process. What was most difficult? What has helped you?
I am also one to let things sit for a while before I revisit them. I just finished the draft of a YA book, and even though it’s a pet project (but aren’t they all?) I will let it marinate for a month or two before going back to it.
I have also recently completed first drafts of two short stories, and they ave been sitting for a while as well. One’s been up on blocks for about 2 months, the other for about a month. I’ve got first-reader comments back for them, but I’m waiting for my wife to weigh in. Yesterday she completed the first draft of her 2nd novel, and has to tinker with it a bit before sending it to her agent. Then she’ll look at my stories. I thoroughly trust her judgment. We have written and sold a few works, so I know my trust is well placed. She gets me, what I am trying to do.
I used to do only two or three drafts of a given work, but in these later days I am more inclined to take my time. Most stuff coming off my desk now gets six or even seven drafts. Seems like a lot, but it works for me.
Taking a break between revisions helped me the most. It gave me a separation from my work. I am an extremely impatient person. So, when I got the advice from to put it aside for a while, that didn’t bode well with me. Some x amount of rejections later, I learned the value in that advice.
Also, reading through your final draft on paper is invaluable. There is nothing like it in the world. You find things to tweak you missed while reading on a screen.
I used to do most of my writing on paper but have been sticking with screen to save on the trees. It’s time I revisited printing a draft on paper. Thanks!