1. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Just started revising

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by seta, Sep 13, 2009.

    Hey gang,
    I just started revising my first novel and it's kind of weird. I've never read a novel with the critical mindset of looking for errors - much less reading one of my novels.

    I read a good 5 pages into it before the weirdness became overwhelming and I had to go do something else.

    Anyways, for the most part I feel like it's very well written and easy to read, which is good. Some things I wrote don't make much sense.

    Any tips on revising one's own work?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't know if you're already doing this, but it helps to leave a few days between when you finish your piece and when you revise it. You can focus on other pieces. When you do come back to your novel, you'll find that it's easier to spot errors and revise.

    It also helps to have someone else read it (assuming he or she is a good source of criticism). It doesn't have to be the whole thing but only the first few chapters. Chances are that the mistakes you make in those first chapters come up in later parts of the novel. Of course, this won't help spot plot holes and the like, but it's always nice to have an outside opinion.
     
  3. AmandaC
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    AmandaC Member

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    Revising is tricky. It really helps to have someone go over it with you, which can be problematic. If you have a friend or peer go over it you run the risk of them coddling you or not being helpful either because they are being too nice or they are simply not knowledgeable about writing and editing and the like. For me, taking a workshop or something is the most helpful in that respect. Constructive criticism is key. You already know your story. So if you are reading over it and something in the wording, for instance, doesn't make sense you might not notice it because you have an inside perspective.
     
  4. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I'm also on the revising stage. This one is more for the plot holes. I think after this on I'll start something new, come back and check grammar and flow, etc. I'd like to get some tips as well.

    Things that I'm looking for right now as I read for plot holes are:
    I tend to switch from third person, that is from the perspective of my main character, to third person omniscient point of view very briefly. This is of course, an accident, but something I think is important to watch out for.
    Another thing I'm looking at is description. Is it enough in some places, can I make it better in others, and am I describing too much of things that just don't matter.
    Info dumping is another thing I know I am prone to do, and that speaks for itself. I just hold the 'delete' button down for a few seconds.
    And lastly, my showing and telling. That is another weakness I have when writing.

    Of course, this stuff may not be as useful for you when revising. Perhaps you are focusing on something entirely different, but those are some of the main concerns that I have with my work. I hope it helps.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I agree, but for myself I find it best to leave a piece for longer. For short stories, it tends to be a week to a month. For novels, a couple of months. Just so that I can look at it with a really fresh eye.
     
  6. p.sawyer
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    p.sawyer Member

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    i'm really into writing poetry again at the moment so it might not apply to you, but what i find is that i write with a lot more emotion and subjectivity at night, so when i go over and revise my work, i do so in the mornings. it's a much more objective and critical time of day. that may be just from my perspective but it could be worth a try if you're struggling.​
     
  7. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    First off, I'd say you haven't left it aside for long enough if you can't get past the fifth page. Objectivity is essential if you're going to be able to get in deep enough to dig through the roots of your first draft. Put it away and work on something else, or spend the time actively reading your specific genre and maybe studying up on self-editing techniques.

    Secondly, I'd suggest printing out a hard copy as you're more likely to miss errors or weaknesses on screen, and it's always good to see your work as your readers will. An added advantage is you can also make pertinant notes on your page.

    You'll need to go through your ms as many times as it takes, checking for places that require improvement, whether that be grammatical, plot, characterisation, or whatever sticks out or trips you up as you read.

    It takes patience and perseverance to achieve your objective, and then you're gona have to prepare for your second draft. Anyway, the fun is all in the rewriting, so good luck to you.
     
  8. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    The previous posters pretty much said it already, but the problem is that you just wrote it, you're intimately familiar with it. So not only are you going to habitually skip words, even whole lines, and therefore miss typos, you'll also miss problems with the plot. As the writer you know everything each character knows, and it's easy to forget that when writing the story and when you're reading it as well.

    The solution: Here, writing clubs/groups, friends/family (I recommend this the least: Even if they're willing to be 100% honest which usually isn't going to happen, they aren't likely to be able to catch what a trained writer can catch. They're best for a general overall opinion, IMO.) or you can do it yourself. The key is to wait. The longer you wait, without looking at it, the better. When you come back to it you'll not only be refreshed from not writing, but also the story will be slightly less fresh in your mind, so you'll read it more closely.

    Good luck, Nate
     
  9. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I finished the first draft about a month ago so I'm coming back to it fresh. My best friend is an avid reader and she has already read most of it. She's just going over it for copy editing - I think that's what it's called. Basically, she's just checking for word choice/spelling/obvious grammar issues.

    As I'm reading it, I'm looking for more technical things, such as passive/active voice - showing/telling appropriately - making sure I don't have any ridiculous exposition - and of course dialogue tag syntax (my weakest point).

    I have two other people who want to read it - both extremely well read. One of them is a linguistic major (does translation work in several languages - so he has a very powerful understanding of compositional rules).

    Hopefully, I can eventually get a little "pow-wow" together with my friends once they have read it to discuss the story - it's strengths and weaknesses.

    As I mentioned above - it is surprisingly easy to read (at least to me) so that was nice.
     
  10. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    Cool

    I’m revising now too, and I finally understand that thing I read a long time ago: “There are no great writers, only great rewriters.”

    It’s amazing how much better one knows the character after finishing, so that when one goes back, they can be really fleshed out.
     
  11. sorites
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    sorites Senior Member

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    Congrats on finishing your first draft! What's your word count? What genre is it? How long/often did you work on it? Are you seeking an agent?

    As for tips on revising, I'm not sure what to tell you. Like any piece of writing, just work on it and polish it until you think it can't get any better. There are so many things to think about with novel writing. Pacing, character development, show/tell, plot holes/clarity, scene structure, increasing tension, and so forth -- they're all important. Of course grammar/spelling problems must be fixed too, but that's obvious.

    You might start by just reading it. Don't try to edit anything. Just force yourself to read the whole thing from start to finish. Then read it again and take notes, but don't make any changes. Think about the big issues. Plot is probably the number one. If your plot is broken, who cares if you have great spelling and grammar. Get all of your plot issues worked out so that everything makes sense and then move on to character development and other things like show vs. tell. By your fifth or sixth pass through, you might be making changes on how your character is reacting to her mother's death in Chapter 12 or whatever, but now you're just banging out the dents so it looks better than it did before. A few passes later, you are down to little things like word choice, grammar, etc.

    My advice: start at 50,000 feet and work your way down to the small stuff.

    Good luck!
     

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