Revision Plans

It’s “one more chapter Tuesday,” Scribettes. At least it is for me. PJ Sharon here, and as I approach my final chapter of my first draft of WANING MOON, I’m already pondering revisions. There won’t be any “letting it rest” for me. Not because I don’t believe in the practice of putting some distance between writer and story before digging into revisions, but because my production schedule doesn’t allow for it this time. I’m already behind schedule, so it’s onward ho!

 I know, based on early feedback from critique partners and my red pen queen, Carol, that I have problems with too much telling, repetitive sentence structure, and a few plot holes that look more like giant pot holes. I’m thinking that my first read thru needs to be a straight-on plot check to make sure all the dots connect, especially since this is the first book of a trilogy. I need to make sure that whatever subplots I leave open will be addressed in the next book. Although I’m not a big “plotter” per se, I’ll definitely be keeping notes this time around to ensure continuity in the next two books. We don’t want Will’s eyes turning from blue to green in book two. There will be story threads that will remain open ended in books one and two that need to wrap up by the final book. At the same time, there are plot points that need to get resolved in this book so that there is some kind of satisfying ending. Tricky thing this trilogy business.

My second trip through, after I rewrite or slash and burn any scenes that don’t move the story forward, I’ll be looking for ways to deepen characterization, layer in subtext, and refine word choice. That’s about the time I’ll be looking for feedback from critique partners about what else might not be working, whether the actions of the characters ring true and are properly motivated, and if the pacing gets bogged down anywhere. I’ll keep tweaking for a few more read-thrus until I feel I’ve done as much as I can on my own, and then it’s off to one of my friendly editors for deep edits—the stuff that makes an author’s hair curl when they see how much they have to fix . I currently have three editors on my short list, but whoever is available and can meet my deadlines will get it first. If I have time, I may go through three rounds of editing before I feel satisfied that the book is ready to go to first print with Createspace.

First prints will go out to Beta readers and also to a proof reader to catch any typos or spelling errors. Once I get all of this feedback, I’ll dive into my semi-final edits. Then it’s off to the copy-editor for one more look and back to me for final edits and a second printing. These prints are considered ARCs and may go out to reviewers or contest winners. I’m only allowed a few of these at a time through Createspace, but I’ll make good use of them, even if there are a few errors. Hopefully, by the time I’m ready for the third printing when I upload to Amazon, BN, and Smashwords, I’ll have a nice clean finished product.

Whew! I’m tired thinking about it. Of course this is an ideal plan, but we all know how plans have a way of changing. The kicker is that I have about 8-10 weeks to make it all happen and I’ve learned that when depending on others to meet my deadlines, all bets are off. It’s just part of the business. Add to the mix, book cover designs and marketing and I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me. But first things first…or last, as in finish up that last chapter. So that’s what I’m doing today.

What are you all up to? Any revision strategies you’d like to share before I dive in? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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24 thoughts on “Revision Plans”

  1. Sounds like a busy schedule with plenty of writing. Good luck with that last chapter and those edits. I’m not sure why sometimes I love editing my books and other times I’d rather have my teeth pulled!

    My Blog

    1. Hahaha! I know what you mean. This first draft has been like that for me. It has literally taken me six months to write it. I’m hoping the editing process goes smoother.

  2. Paula, whew is right. I am exhausted with all that you need to do to get your book(s) to your readers. I have found that I edit as I write. A real snag, if I say so myself. I can’t seem to pull that thread right through and get it done. So, I ask you, how do you do it? How do you get the whole work done, in what, three months? I am, finally, a third done with my WIP. And just yesterday, I read the whole work to be sure it had a flow, and that the scenes keeps moving forward, only to find more to edit, and more scenes to plug-in. Thea Devine said it to me, “just get it done Gail.” This morning, I am up early to write more and not edit. Do I have any suggestions for you? Nope. Sounds like you are on track. But I do wish you smooth sailing, and all good luck for continued success.

    1. Thanks, Gail. I’ve completed past first drafts in about 3 months. But that was before I published and had to spend the majority of my time promoting and marketing the books. That was also before I learned to revise and edit well. This one has taken me much longer. Turning off that internal editor is challenging for us perfectionists, See my post on first draftitis from a few weeks ago. http://secretsof7scribes.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/first-draft-itis/

      It was helpful to hear both Kristan Higgins and Sherri Thomas say that you have to allow your first draft to suck. That was very freeing for me. Fiction Fest gave me a boost and for whatever reason, I was able to push through to the end this time. The hardest part for me is getting through the sagging middle when I feel like there are a lot of words going on the page that aren’t getting me anywhere. I had to keep telling myself, “I can fix it in revisions.”

      I suggest, “Keep writing and don’t look back until you see the words THE END.”

  3. Oh, is it a first draft even if it has suffered running editing? If so, not matter what, my WIP is a sucking first draft. I will keep writing, I think. Thanks.

  4. Paul,
    First, congratulations for being almost at the finish line. No small feat. I’ve come to love revision because for me the first draft flows uninterrupted so I have mega revisions at the end but it makes the story stronger. With my series, I keep a onenote files on all the characters and their descriptions along with locations, it’s very helpful when I start to write the next book (just thought I’d share). Good Luck, Paula.

    1. Thanks Marian! I love One Note, but haven’t used it as much as I could. I will go back to it during revisions and do as you suggested. Great advice!

  5. I think I’m weird when it comes to revisions. I try to write very, very clean the first time around, because I’m a picky little perfectionist. I don’t usually revise *while* I’m writing the first draft, but if I realize I’ve formed a plot hole or something I will go back and fix it because I can’t move the story forward if there’s a huge hole in the middle of it. The basic mechanics of writing (spelling, grammar, etc.) have never really been a problem for me, so anything that isn’t good in the first draft is going to be description, characterization, etc.

    Fortunately, after the number of books I’ve had published, I’ve gotten plenty of notes from my editors. I know what my usual downfalls are in writing. So after I finish the first draft and put it aside for a week or so, I put on my editor hat and go through the manuscript the way I know my editor will. That way, I’m usually able to catch and fix most of the issues with the story. After I do that, I read through it once more to fix anything I’ve missed, and then it’s off to whichever publisher I’m submitting it to.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Jo. You are a machine, my firend. I don’t know how you do it. I’ve seen you crank out books and it is like ninja writing!

      I think I write pretty cleanly as well which definitely makes for less editing later. I too, have to fix any major plot problems as I go which saves me from writing myself into a corner, but sometimes I don’t realize that something doesn’t work until I get to the end and go back through it. Likewise, some of the extraneous seeming details that I put in chapter four actually end up having a significance that I didn’t know about until the end, which is why it’s sometimes not a good thing to edit too much as I go. I’m learning to trust the process and let my subconcious do it’s “first draft” thing.

  6. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jennifer. I’m putting on my big girl panties and allowing no whining (or wining) until after 8 pm:-)

    1. I probably went through each of my other books no less than fifty times. I finally took a few revision workshops that helped me approach it from a broader view where I would focus on just a few elements at a time. I’m hoping that it streamlines the process a bit. Thanks for stopping by, Carole.

  7. PJ, your plan sounds incredibly thorough! I confess I don’t go through as many revisions or edits, but maybe I should. If I had to choose in a time crunch, I don’t know if I could do without the cooling distance of at least 2 weeks before trying to revise. Food for thought!
    Stephanie Queen

    1. Thanks Stephanie. Whatever works is what we do. I’m forcing myself to keep at it because of the time crunch. I like taking at least a few weeks to distance myself and look with fresh eyes, but that’s what I get for slacking on the front end and taking too much time to get the first draft done. I’d love to make some excuses, but there have been days and weeks where I couldn’t get words on the page and it really set me back. As it is, I’ll be pushing it for a September release, but I like to treat myself as if I own my own publishing house and have deadlines to adhere to just like everyone else in this business.

      1. I’ll add, the only difference is, I don’t have to worry about a publisher not renewing my contract:-)

  8. Great for you, PJ! I can appreciate your excitement for THE END. I’ve only completed the revisions process for one book so far, so I’m unqualified to comment. Once I finish this second draft (by the end of the year), I anticipate moving pretty quickly through revisions (maybe 8-10 weeks like yours) since I am a plotter and plodder the first time around. :)

  9. Thanks, Jolyse. I’ve doen it three times now and it still feel like I’m swimming in a very big ocean with a small peice of drift wood to keep me afloat. I hear that the process gets easier with time and practice, but I’m thinking that probably happens about book nine or ten:-)

  10. Good luck PJ. Like Lisa Jo I’ve also only revised one book and can’t really offer any suggestions. But you seem to have it under control any how. : )

    1. Looks are so deceiving, Donna, LOL. I have a plan at least. Sometimes, that’s all we’ve got to go on, right? Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I’m exhausted just reading about your process. But I know with all that work, you’ll end up with something you’re proud of. I’m currently writing an episodic middle grade myth story and have been revising and editing each chapter as I go and getting them to my beta readers (my grandchildren and their parents). Cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to keep them wanting more. So far, so good. I’ve got a couple more chapters to go and Voila (however that is spelled) and it’ll be complete, except for the copy editor, and some hair-pulling, last minute, anxiety-ridden tweaks :D

    1. I hear you, Dean. Revisions can be daunting and frustrating, and a bit overwhelming, but as with all things, it’s about taking one step, one chapter, sometimes one page at a time. Eventually, we get to the finish line.

  12. Wow, you have a tight schedule and lots to do, but you can do it, Paula. Congrats on getting to the last chapter! It’s always interesting to hear about other writers’ creative process. I really need to let each draft rest for a week or so, otherwise I’m too close to the story. Good luck with your revisions.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Linda. Normally I need that time as well, but interestingly, because I’ve already set my mind to diving right in, my brain is working on overtime and working out revisions even now. It is amazing how the brain processes information. I’m actually really looking forward to it.

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