Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Eating The Elephant

Revising almost 400 pages feels impossible. Never mind that I'm the one who wrote them in the first place, pulling each word out of thin air. That part seems so easy compared with making those words better. To deleting some of those hard fought for words and adding (praise the goddess, is it possible?) more words. How does anyone ever get through all this?

One word at a time, of course. One page. One scene. One chapter. One book. Easy peasy.

Of course, it's not quite that linear. What in writing really is? But it is still possible to break it down into steps. [See goals at left.] As I read through the manuscript, I realized that not only are there things that need to go or be expanded or contracted, but that I have a few missing scenes as well. One small bite of the elephant is going to be roughing those out and setting them in place so they can be polished with their respective chapters.

Then put the extras (journal entries, etc) where they belong throughout the main narrative.

I plan to use the hard copy to mark up. After about 100 pages, I'll transcribe into the computer. Then the next 100 and so on. This will actually give me 2 revisions for the price of 1. Once on the hard copy and then again when I type it in. Because I always find something when I'm transcribing.

When I lay it out like that, it doesn't seem like such a big deal. And I need it to not feel like a big deal.

Any other tricks you've discovered to help tackle "impossible" jobs?


Ali said...

The main thing is to just focus on one bit out of that ol' elephant at a time. ;)

Love the metaphor.

Fleur Bradley said...

Stick with it. Once you're in the story, it's so much easier to edit.

I'm sorta where you are: one more go through the whole thing. It's hard to still see the spark in it...

Can't wait to celebrate with you once it's done!

Jenny said...

I handle it like this:
1. Cry
2. Scream
3. Work on it a little bit.
4. Shout at my children.
5. Work on it some more.
6. Repeat

Marie D-W said...

The way I'm doing it with Darkwings: First I made a flow chart of all the plot changes in the book, then I do the changes. Now, I'm going and reading the whole thing out loud and I catch lots of little things. Not sure what the last run through will involve. We'll see.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think you and your fellow writers might like this article from The Guardian I was reading today: "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction" by quite a few famous authors.


Debbie said...

Courtney, those are great. I'd seen many of them before, but it's always good to remind ourselves what everyone who does this crazy activity goes through.

I love "like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark." Sort of sums up the whole experience.