Sunday, June 3, 2012

Beginning revisions

Camp NaNo has done it: It has broken the research barrier.  I've been putting off revisions of Ruby Ransome and Pandora's Box for months, until that illusive day comes to pass that I've finished all my research.  But under pressure to show some progress on the June session of Camp NaNo, despite the fact that it's not actually word count progress, I've started revisions anyway.  After all, I've done enough research to have an idea of what I want to add, so as I go through the novel I can just put in place markers for what I still need to finish researching.  For the majority of the revisions, though, research just isn't necessary.

Although I'd intended to focus my first round of revisions on the story and the history, I've found that I can't stop myself from marking up the text.  Things just jump out of at me, and I can't ignore it when I don't like a word choice, or phrasing, or a passage of description or dialogue.  So I mark it up.

So far, most pages look like this:

Please forgive the poor picture quality, but I don't think there's a way to take a screen shot on my Nook, and that's where I'm doing my revisions.  I'm doing them the way Stephen King suggests in On Writing -- reading through the entire manuscript, marking it up, and then going back in the actual file and making the changes -- but instead of lugging around the actual manuscript, I'm doing it in a PDF annotator app on my Nook.

But as you can see, the page is filled with orange boxes and text annotations.  (I chose the color orange to make it stand out readily without having the disapproving tone that red mark-ups tend to imply.)  It will be interesting to see how revisions go in this fashion.  I've never been a big one for revising -- with my blog posts and articles, I tend to revise as I go along, and then go back through one last time for revisions once the piece is written -- so revising a novel is pretty new for me, and I'm kind of figuring things out as I go along.

How do you do revisions?  Do you find this stage to be harder or easier than the actual writing stage?  I thought it would be harder for me, because I'm basically going back through my work and tearing it up, but I wrote it so long ago (and I'm more mature as a writer now, too, I think) that it doesn't feel as personal as it did when I was writing fiction in high school and college.  In fact, I think it's easier in a lot of ways, because it has already been written, it's already there; all I have to do is make it better!

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