Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Revisionist History by Christine Locke

I don't think I've ever done this before: I'm revising two different manuscripts at the same time.  Can't say I would want to do it again, either!  But it's got me thinking: What's your most effective revision strategy?

Here's mine in a nutshell:

The first time I read through a story, I read for plot holes and glaring errors.  I may also edit as I go, but it's not my primary concern.  Ok, I'm a little compulsive, so I DO edit as I go.  But I don't get bogged down--I want to know if the story WORKS, so I can't fiddle with the language much at this point.

Then, I repair the plot holes I find.  This makes me feel like I'm repairing potholes in a road, making the story journey more pleasant.

The second time I read , I'm looking for tension.  Do I need to keep turning the page?  If not, what can I do to give the story urgency?  Again, I'm going to do a little editing, but it's not my primary concern.  I want to see if the story makes me want to read it...fast.

Time go go back through with my notes and add tension, or spread tension out, to make the pace of the story feel great.  This is like regulating the speed limit on my story "road."

Ok, NOW it's time to get down to editing.  At this point, the editing will not be too depressing or overwhelming because I know I've patched the plot holes and regulated tension, so now I'm just fixing grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

I edit two or three times.

I'll tell you a little secret.  I was on my last run-through (maybe the fourth editing pass?) of the novel Open Door when I found a glaring error.  Mallace Mansion has no electricity.  It's a rather significant part of the plot, and I make a big deal out of the lack of electricity at the mansion.  In the final scene, when Carin serves tea to her mother and friends on the veranda, I had electric ceiling fans twirling overhead!!  I could not believe it.  How many times had I read that description without realizing what I had done??  I had a good laugh and fixed it.  Then I did another edit before I sent my novel to beta readers.

Beta readers get to read the novel.  That's right.  They don't get to read it until I have done all this.  It's true.  And then, yes, they find errors, or they tell me the introductory chapter is not quite right, or they tell me a certain interaction is inauthentic.  Beta readers always find things I was too close to spot.  They and the time they give to reading my stories are invaluable.

Go back and fix the errors my beta readers find.  Now, I might not agree with everything they tell me.  I might not make every change they want.  But, if I don't want to do what they say, I'd better have a darn good reason.

Now, other than a final editing pass through by yours truly, that's been my strategy.  I publish after the betas.  However, I'm strongly considering a professional editor next time.  What do you think?  What has been your experience with professional editing?

It's back to the editing desk for me...Out of Place, the final chapter in Carin's story, is coming soon....

No comments:

Post a Comment