1. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    Rewriting and revision techniques?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dizzyspell, Jun 27, 2011.

    Just curious to see what other people do.

    Every edit of mine is based around a specific element, so that I don't get side tracked. For instance, I'm currently working on my "tension building revision", and after this will come my "emotional revision", etc.

    At the end, of course, I make sure that they all fit in well together. Then I do a couple of revisions of the whole thing in general, and I pick it apart until I can find nothing wrong with it.

    After this, as we're supposed to, I leave it for a while, come back to it, edit again, and find out that a lot of things were wrong.

    I have used this technique on stories not longer than 50k in the past. My WIP is at 100,000 words as of the second draft, and I'm feeling a little intimidated by the amount of work it is giving me! In a good way, though.

    So how do you all revise? Tips? Strategies? Quirks?
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Wait a couple weeks to give yourself objectivity (use the time to start writing something else), then read it and keep a running list of all the things you find wrong with it. Revising each time over and over for each individual think will take FOREVER, and I don't see why you'd need to. Review it once yourself, then have a friend check it out (preferably a fellow writer)
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I prefer a more comprehensive revision. First, read it through without taking any notes, except purely mechanical aspects like spelling, grammatical errors, and punctuation.

    After that reading, write down your overall impressions. What parts seemed to drag, what parts seemed rushed, where did the tension flag or need to be pulled back? Were there scenes that served no good purpose? Were there things that needed to be brought forward with new or expanded scenes?

    Prioritize these comments, and read through the manuscript again, with the prioritized list in mind. Consider each scene's role in advancing the story, and make notes as to how the scene might function better.

    Now revise in a new copy of the manuscript (always keep older drafts!), based on your notes. Then set it aside for a week or two. Work on another writing project, before returning for another revision pass.

    Repeat until you cannot find any significant changes you need to make.
     
  4. polarboy
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    polarboy Member

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    One technique I like is to use my computer's Speech function to read the manuscript back to me--essentially turning my rough draft into an audiobook. Listening to the story gives me an outsider's perspective in a way as keep an ear out for places where information is unclear or sentence organization should change.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I read through the ms several times, making revisions as I go. Sometimes, I'll go through a dozen times or more.
     
  6. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    Ooh, yes! I generally read aloud instead, but I know what you mean. Hearing your words can smooth out a lot.
     
  7. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I read through the entire thing first, and sometimes make notes as I go along of things I could change, should change, etc., and then I revise them. I usually do that a few times.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I read it several times, including aloud (reading aloud is VERY important to me!). Then, as Cogito says, make any notes necessary. Don't limit yourself to a "tension" draft or an "emotion" draft - you'll see, clearly enough, most things you need to do. Then revise to account for all of those things. Repeat ad nauseum.

    Then go back and realize that changes, often big structural ones, could be made that would make your story even more amazing!
     
  9. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    Thanks Cog! This is brilliant and very helpful.

    You guys are awesome. I'm ashamed to admit that actually reading the story before I started editing never popped into my mind. :redface:
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    that sounds amazing, what kindof computr do you have? does all computers have that function??? :p

    I thought about doing something like that, because I'm not sure I can keep every aspect of it in mind while editing, so that is why I thought I should do it in steps instead, one step to see where I could show instead of telling (that is going to be a big one), one for eliminating unnecessary words and replace some "said" with action tags for better flow, etc... is it a bad idea? I don't mind it taking a little more time, as long as the final result is good... it would be worth it.
     
  11. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Trial and error for me.

    Generally speaking, I go through and look at spelling/grammatical issues first, but in doing that I may already notice other things that need changing. Sometimes I just 'bold' parts I want to look at, e.g. to add more dialogue or to re-write later.
     
  12. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I try to get the story right before I do anything with grammar and weird sentences. Once I know this is the story I want, don't want to add or remove anything and the mood and pace seems right in all scenes, I start fixing all grammar mistakes and weird sentences. Often use a speech program so I can listen to it. Reading aloud doesn't work for me. I stop listening to myself...
    Then I work on all the dialog last.
     
  13. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I read through and correct mistakes and reword sentences or maybe even more descritpion.
    I know when I get to good parts in my story because I will realize I have been reading rather then editing. My older stories are easy to know that I have been doing this, they aren't formatted right. So I look back and it stands out when the rest is formatted properly.

    What program is it?
    I think hearing what is really on the page, stops your mind from automatically reading what you thought you wrote.

    Hearing it, will highlight poorly written sentences or hard to read sentences.
     
  14. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    At the risk of sounding like The Price is Right I'll say, good answer Cogito.

    I also completely agree with the read it outloud idea and the have a friend read it idea.
    At a writers' conference several of the agents stressed how important it is to have a writers' group. One agent even stated that one question he always asks before he will ask someone to send him a manuscript is if they have a good critic group and if that critic group has had a chance to tear the book apart yet.
     

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