Monday, May 27, 2013

Passing the halfway mark

Today, for the first time, I am visibly past the halfway mark in my manuscript:

The stack on the left is the pages I've marked, and the stack on the right is the pages I have yet to do.  I'm on page 176 right now out of 292 (and I updated the progress meter in the sidebar to reflect my page count).

I've actually had a monster weekend for revisions: I marked up 8 pages yesterday, and 21 so far today.  (I'm not done for the day either, just taking a short break to update my blog.)  Quite a bit of what I did this past week was marking up pages for massive revisions -- when I can think of what I want, I handwrite it on the pages themselves, and when I can't think of exactly what I want but I want to change it, I circle the passages and write short notes so that I don't forget what I had in mind when I go back through the electronic file to make the changes.  I was doing a lot of handwriting revisions this past week, which of course takes longer than circling and making notes for later, so the page count isn't always an accurate picture of how much work I've put into it.

I don't know if all writers spend this much time on revisions -- I suspect not, but then, my first draft was a very rough draft with lots of research and key scenes left out simply because I didn't think of it at the time, or because the research would take too long during NaNoWriMo (when I wrote most of the first draft).  As I go back through, though, watching for consistency and tightening up the story and the writing as much as possible, I can feel it growing in my mind, from a linear story to a cohesive entity.  I can feel all of the connections forming and strengthening as I flip back and forth through the manuscript, making sure everything makes sense and every scene is necessary to the development of the story.  It's quite an empowering feeling.

Once I am done marking up revisions, I have to go through the electronic file and fix everything I've marked in the paper file, plus I have quite a few scenes to rewrite or (in the case of things I'm adding) write from scratch.  I work with the physical manuscript first based on the advice in Stephen King's On Writing, though I don't go through the entire novel as fast as he recommends -- I cannot even imagine getting through it in a few days, but then I suppose I have other jobs and responsibilities that a full-time novelist doesn't.  I have to say, though, that this advice seems right on -- marking revisions on the physical manuscript feels different than just reading through and making changes on the computer -- I feel more invested somehow, more critical, but also it makes me feel like a reader as well as a writer.

My plan is still to get as far in the revisions as possible before the end of June, and then use Camp NaNoWriMo to help me finish what revisions are left.  Initially I planned to let my beta readers have it right after I finished, starting with my husband, but now I think I will first go over the fight scenes with someone (or a couple of someones) more knowledgeable about that sort of thing than I am, and then give the whole thing one more quick read-through, mostly for continuity -- I'll be making a lot of changes to scene placement, and I want to make sure I don't have any holes when I send it off to beta readers.

I've got some distance to go before I get to that point, though -- writing a novel is hard work, much harder than you realize until you're neck deep in this sort of stuff.  It's worth it though -- I feel like all of the effort I'm putting into this will pay off with a great novel and a great series!

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