Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blog Chain: Revision Decisions



This blog chain topic was chosen by the lovely Sarah Bromley who wants to know:

How do you handle revisions? Do you revise as you're writing, or do you wait until you've gone through beta readers and crit partners to revise? How soon after you finish do you begin your revisions?

For me, it sort of depends on the project. Poetry, I revise immediately after finishing, sometimes before I've finished. Non-fiction, I only have one, sometimes two, crit partners read that stuff, and I usually revise as soon as they've read each chapter, while writing the next. But non-fiction is much easier for me to deal with, in general. It's not as personal, there aren't any plot holes or character developments, or "hard" stuff to fix. Revisions mostly consist of adding more or less explanations, rewording or reorganizing....stuff that isn't too difficult to do.

Fiction, ahhh yes, fiction. That's an entirely different story. Honestly, I'm still trying to find the revision technique that works best for me. I always go through something several times before I send it out to my crit partners. I'll generally go through a chapter the day after writing it and then let it sit for a day or so more before going through it again. And then I'll send it off, when it's as good as I can get it.

Once my crit partners have marked it up, I tend to want to fix something as soon as I know there's something wrong. However, I've discovered this doesn't always work well. Because my crit partners might mark up stuff in chapter three that I'll spend days revising only to find out that I need to cut the entire scene a couple weeks later because a revision in chapter seven changed the whole plotline.

So, for my new WIP, I am going to try and let the revisions wait until the whole book has been edited by my crit partners. And then, I'll go through chapter by chapter and see what needs to be done. It'll be hard to keep my OC tendencies in check, but dangit, I'm gonna try! :)

Be sure to check out Laura's answer from yesterday and swing by Shaun's tomorrow to see how he deals with revisions.

And speaking of Shaun, stay tuned next week for our Author Spotlight Week featuring him!! We'll be giving away signed copies of his book as well, so don't miss it!!

14 comments:

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I agree sometimes it's best to look at the entire book first before revising; otherwise, you get into situations like the one you described.

Looking forward to your Author Spotlight next week!

Michelle H. said...

Too often I revise chapter by chapter, or even by paragraph. Great post.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I revise as I go and once it's complete. Since I hand-write first, I tend to write a chapter or two and then enter into the computer, doing massive edits at that time. I print out the pages and continue hand-writing. I also stop now and then and edit what I've printed. I continue this process until I'm done writing, often re-printing pages that have a lot of edits for clarity. I then print it all out clean and go through it again several times. In this manner, I think I read every section close to 100 times.

Amanda said...

It's hard for me to let a MS rest. I'm more of an insta-reviser! There are times when it works well and other times you really do need to take a step back. I have a chapter I've decided to add in my WIP, and though I want to go back and revise immediately, I'm forcing myself to finish the novel first.

Cole Gibsen said...

I admit, I'm a chapter by chapter reviser. It's an illness.

Christine Fonseca said...

great post! Revisions can be tricky...especially if you are chaning plotlines in the middle of things

Michelle McLean said...

ha! you know me so well ;-)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Yeah, I think that I am also still looking for my perfect revision technique. Preferably one that doesn't take months and months of my time;)

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Haven't finished the draft (though I'm on goal for end of this month, woot!), but when I do, I think I'm with you re: letting crit partners read it before starting revisions. One, I'm gonna need a few weeks' distance and, two, I'd rather already have gotten feedback by the time I'm revising, rather than have to wait on it after I'm done. Great post!

Margie Gelbwasser said...

I'm all about waiting until the book is done before revising, for the reasons you mentioned. You can make a chapter perfect and then realize that story line is not working or character needs to be cut. I hope this new plan works for you!

Eric said...

I know what you mean about plot changes. That can definitely cause you probs if you've "fixed" stuff earlier in the story. It sounds like you have a good start on a process though. Nice post.

Sarah Bromley said...

I revise chapter by chapter, but I also go back and try to fix things if I've changed something that's gonna affect earlier parts of the MS. Nice job!

Kat Harris said...

I have to finish the whole thing before I start changing scenes/characters. I'd never finish otherwise.

lbdiamond said...

Yeah, I tend to re-read what I just wrote the day before. It refreshes my memory and helps me to smooth things out before a little wrinkle becomes a huge tear.