1. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Revision help.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by zoupskim, Jan 15, 2016.

    I have the knife and red pen. I am in a bad mood, and am ready to hate everything I ever thought was good.

    Time to revise.

    I have changes to make on everything from plot points to technology inconsistencies. This is my first attempt at writing a book. What do I do? What do you do? Guide my holy red ink as I cut the fat from this disgusting waste of time and creative effort.
     
  2. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    The sooner you get started, the sooner you will have a fine book... Editing stinks and it is the hardest part, no joy in creation just non-stop self-criticism. So dive in, get over with, and don't put it off. Like any nasty job, putting it off makes the anticipation worse. Sounds like you know what needs doing, so just do it and get it over with.
     
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  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm assuming that you've finished a first draft, which is a huge accomplishment. Not a lot of people get that far. There are several ways you can approach editing. It really depends on what works for you. Some people like to start revising right after finishing the first draft. Others like to take some time away from the project and return after a week or two. Whatever the case, you should keep in mind that there will probably be multiple revisions, so you'll be going through the manuscript several times.

    If editing seems too overwhelming, my advice would be to start simple. Focus on one or two things on the first edit. Once that's taken care of, focus on the other issues. It's a long process, but that's just the nature of writing. Good luck!
     
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  4. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    I learn something everyday from this forum. I have NOT finished my first draft. I am 2/3s done with a first draft. I am editing because I thought it would be good to step back from creating and focus on the technical aspects of writing. Should I refrain from any editing at all until the story is done?
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It's totally up to you. I know some people like to edit as they go, which is perfectly fine. As long as you come up with a finished manuscript at the end, it really doesn't matter how you edit.
     
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  6. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well what I did on my first, was to cut the filler out. Unless it is important to the story or adds something to it, then out it goes no matter how much you like it. Maybe you could save all the cuts and make a book of Easter Eggs, if you wanted. :p

    And As far as consistency, reread and see if all the facts come together with the new addition. Read and reread, it will keep your story from straying into a loop, or having things change dramatically into the absurd. Example if you tell me so and so has green eyes, and later they change to brown eyes, you might want to backtrack to make sure you have the facts straight. :p

    These have worked for me, but you will find the method that works for you. :D
     
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  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    In your original post, you asked not just what you should do, but also what I (we, the readers of this forum) would do...

    What I do (most of the time):
    • finish the first draft,
    • let it 'stew' for at least a month (long enough that I'm thinking about other stories),
    • reread it,
    • do an outline, and
    • start rewriting.
    Letting it sit for a while gives me a bit of perspective so I can tell what's well-written, even if it doesn't work in the story. This gives me hope that someday, maybe, the entire thing might be worth reading. :)

    Doing an outline helps me find the backbone.

    The rewriting just gives me headaches, so I won't comment further on that.
     
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  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    One thing that really helps me is reading it out loud. It's amazing that something flows well on screen/in your head, but as soon as your ears hear it you can tell it's all wrong.
     
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  9. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I am in the same situation right now, maybe a bit farther ahead in the storyline. What I do is (and you are quite free to do whatever works for you best) is, I edit the first rev as I go. Because as the story gets written I notice inconsistencies, scenes to delete/enlarge, missing explanations. And when my brain is fried from a new scene I just wrote, I go back and do these 'little' edits. Seems to work for me.

    In editing I start with reading through, marking badly placed words, paragraphs which got mixed up somehow with regard to cause and effect, this kind of thing. Sometimes I immediately put the correct word in, or rearrange. Just do what you are in the mood to do. If something is too complicated right now or your backbrain needs to sit another day or three on it, mark it up and let it sit. Or make a note in a dedicated file 'Corrections' so that you don't forget about it later.

    Up to you. Hope this helps - cheer you on :)
     
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  10. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I recently started with that and I think it helps in finding out if a scene flows. But so far I have found only small things to change, e.g. multiple instances of the same word. And not often either. I mostly just enjoy it and 'hope' somewhen to find a paragraph that seems to be a way off. The alternative being that I am just not a person to rely on auditorial input and I don't want to be that ;)
     
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  11. kateamedeo
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    kateamedeo Active Member

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    My advice is to finish the first draft, then make up the list of scenes (I usually write notes while I write, so I don't have to go back to edit before the draft is finished). After you have the map of your story (even a sentence per scene) you can start editing. Don't pay attention to the word choice now, do the plot, fix the holes and change what needs to be changed. Then, and only then, start all over, reread it and tweak the word choice. After you do that, reread it once again, take notes, change things to be changed. And then I convert the text into voice and listen to the story as if someone is telling it to me. This helps a lot to catch those pesky little mistakes like misspelling and to notice if the story is flowing well.
    And lastly, put it away and reread it again in a week or two.

    But first, finish it. Sometimes when you start editing too early, you never get to finish the work either because you get discouraged or because you end up in the editing loop.

    KA
     
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  12. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did something similar in preparing for a synopsis edit. I didn't want to pay for a full edit, without having a feel for the editor's work, and she probably did not want to commit in advance to editing 800 pages, if they all turned out to be crap. So I gave her the first forty pages, ending on a chapter break, and paragraph synopses of the remaining 76 chapters for story . I found these very helpful in determining for myself how each chapter contributed to the story, a cut above an outline: in a single paragraph, what happened in each chapter?

    One chapter was devoted to getting the villain, their former shipping master, from a port city on the Persian Gulf to Aria (Herat, western Afghanistan, then and now a major border city on the Silk Road). Many chapters later, he would encounter the Romans on their way west, just as everything was beginning to look rosy for their getting home without any more trouble.

    That chapter spent a lot of time with him on a caravan, narrated discussion of five pages with the caravan master how that system works, his deciding that it was similar enough to merchant shipping (nothing goes out or comes back empty) that he wound up setting himself up in Aria, eventually as caravan master. The caravan discussion was duplicated almost verbatim a bunch of chapters later when the Romans got to Turfam in China, near Mongolia, and needed to engage a caravan to Kashgar and points west. It was more detailed dialogue with the caravan master, rather than narrative, and much more relevant: they needed to know how to do travel as "passengers", and why a caravan might allow this as opposed to shipping goods (paying as opposed to paid labor, and safety in numbers).

    I decided to drop the earlier chapter in its entirety, as the reader already knew he was heading east to Aria by caravan. I synopsized it into two paragraphs at the beginning of the chapter where he learns of the Romans' imminent arrival, and plans to kill them all before they expose him to Parthian authorities. Since he has become somewhat of a sociopathic killer, he had struck a friendship with the caravan master, got a job working for him in Aria, and after a year or two, the man dies, helped on by some discrete poisons, and with that and some of Hasdrubal's not-insignificant funds, he now runs the whole operation. The reader is surprised at his sudden re-emergence, but has a brief but plausible explanation of how a shipping master came to be running a caravan, not enough details to raise questions before being drawn immediately into the drama of the confrontation.

    Bottom line, synopsizing each paragraph helped me drop a whole chapter that was unnecessary and heightened the tension of the final confrontation, and I was also able to identify other paragraphs that didn't contribute to various chapters as well. I eliminated five pages and 1500 words. Not enough, but I have decided now that this really is a 250K word story.
     
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