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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Revising A Light That Never Goes Out: The Analysis

When I first signed up with Secret Agent, we both agreed that my novel needed revision (in fact, that's one major reason why I signed with him - we were both on the same page about revisions and what needed to be done - besides the fact that he is just plain awesome, which some of you saw at the SCBWI Winter Conference).

So after freaking out for a week or so, I devised a strategy...namely, obsessive analysis - which turned out to be a good thing.

First, I went chapter by chapter and made good use of an Excel spreadsheet - a row for each chapter with columns for chapter #, Status (more later on this), Major event(s), Emotional arc, my own revision notes, my critique group's notes, and Action items.

For "Status," I picked a color for each chapter - green for great, yellow for ok, orange for uh-oh, and red for...Red Alert! This was probably the most useful thing - seeing that all the chapters weren't that bad, and trying to figure out what made the green chapters good and getting the other chapters to that level.

I avoided the red chapters for a while - which were of course in the most critical places, then tried revising backwards from the last chapter (a completely mental idea), then polished a few green chapters before finally diving into the red and orange ones...which were really terrible, hair-pulling excavations...and afterward, the yellow ones didn't look half bad!

What's your best revision tip? (I ask, because more revisions are on the horizon, and I'll take any tips I can get...!)

If you're a writer in the Seattle area, don't miss Bonny Becker's BE WISE, REVISE at the next SCBWI WWA meeting (Feb 11 at SPU, Demaray 150). Bonny has a gift for structuring stories, plus she uses Star Wars to discuss plot. I heart people who heart Star Wars.

1 comment:

  1. Your process amazes me, Holly. I just start on page one and plow, plow, plow. :~)