Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Art of Revision

Six weeks became four, and Sever's in-progress again.

I'm no stranger to edits or revisions. My day job means they happen several times a day.

This is the first time I've edited something longer than 10,000 words, though.

And it really is a different animal.

I tend to have a fairly short attention span. It's not a horrific problem, just something I try to stay conscious of. Especially when I'm trying to do something especially tedious.

Editing. Is. Tedious.

I'm a tactile person. For whatever reason (probably my aforementioned short attention span) it's incredibly hard for me to sit down and make edits to a story when it's on my laptop. It's easier when it's a short story - there's only so far I can scroll, after all - but when I'm working with a 200+ page document, I catch myself scrolling, scrolling, skimming, skimming. Not a good thing to do when you're trying to go through a novel line by line, sentence by sentence, and tighten it up.

So. I printed it out. All 265 pages of it, and put it in a three-ring notebook.

Fifteen days later, what I've been referring to as 'paper edits' are done, and I'm in the process of transferring them to the electronic version of the novel. I'll re-print it once that's finished and pass it on to Beta Reader Number One.

It's been a learning experience. Namely, that I overuse certain phrases, in some cases to the point where I roll my eyes now when I see the phrase "part of me felt (x) but a larger part of me felt (y)." Ugh. Enough of that, LM.

While I'm dealing with the blows to my tender writerly ego, editing also means I'm not being quite as creative. Yes, the editing exposed passages, even entire scenes, that needed rewriting, but it's not the same as putting a story together from scratch. Several times, I've been tempted to churn a short story out, but I'm trying to focus all my energy on getting Sever to round three.

That's not to say I'm not enjoying it. It's satisfying, like scratching an itch that's been bothering you all day. It's making Sever better. Tighter. More solid.

Which, I hope, will eventually get it to where it needs to be.

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