Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Revisalator

Maven Darcy BurkeIs there such a thing? Some sort of tool you can purchase from Ronco for $29.99 that revises your manuscript into flowing, economical, spectacular perfection? I’d buy it. In fact, I might buy two at that price. I’m in the midst of polishing up my manuscript to send it out to the requests I received at National and boy, howdy, is it harder than I thought it would be. I’m sure part of it is because I wrote the first third of the ms last November/December and my writing has gotten a lot better since then (I hope!). Surprisingly, that first third was actually pretty good (funnier than I remember and full of some really great scenes), but I decided to reverse the first major turning point (at the end of that first third) so that the hero’s and heroine’s choices are swapped. It ratcheted the conflict in a major way. I also decided to tweak the heroine’s sister’s role a bit. Once again, it ups the conflict for the heroine.

What I’m learning is that the revision is difficult – in some ways more than the first draft – because you really are tying it all together. Like upping the conflict as I said above. I had good conflict before, but this is better. And I didn’t see it until I’d finished the first draft (and neither did the Mavens). I kind of see the first draft as a fantastic outfit and the revision is the shoes to go with it. You can probably find loads of shoes that will work and look fine, but only one or two will be perfect. Okay, that’s oversimplifying things, but you get my drift. (Right?)

Once you get through a first draft, you’re much better equipped to look at the conflict and all of the layers you need from fifty thousand feet. Once you get that perspective, you swoop in close for a scene by scene review to ensure you’ve got everything you need: setting, opening/closing hooks, five senses, GMC, vocabulary, balance (action/introspection/dialogue – can I call this AID and claim it in the name of MavenSpeak?). This seems straightforward, but it’s hard. If only there were a set formula we could use to make sure it all works.

Setting + attention grabbing hooks + one of each senses + varied and colorful vocabulary= framework

GMC + AID = The “Meat”

Framework + meat = Perfect Scene

Ta da! The Revisalator! (I don’t take PayPal, so you’ll have to send me a check.) Ah, if only it were that easy…

So what tricks do you employ when polishing your ms or revising a scene(s)? Is there a method to your madness? Do you love it or loathe it?

12 comments:

ERiCA said...

I kind of see the first draft as a fantastic outfit and the revision is the shoes to go with it. You can probably find loads of shoes that will work and look fine, but only one or two will be perfect.

I luuuurve metaphors! Metaphors are the way to my heart!!!

I would so totally be intrigued in a trial use of a Revisalator. Wicked cool. Especially since that'll be me shortly. I have not one but three stories on the horizon, needing revision...

Tricks of my own you ask? Here's not one but four posts I did last year on this topic:
Revision Post 1
Revision Post 2
Revision Post 3
Revision Post 4

(Linked without me re-reading them--hopefully I still agree with my 2006 self!)

Mostly, it's exactly as you say--number one is fix plot/ conflict/ characterization, and number two is layer in all the stuff that makes a good scene great.

But right now, I'm all talk--we'll see how well I do next week when I start putting my money where my mouth is!

(What a weird idiom. I will not actually put money where my mouth is. Instead, I will either print out my story (or look at it onscreen--I haven't decided yet) and attack it with objectivity and vigor for as long as I can stand it. *g)

Who's really good at this is Maven Lacey. Her recent revisions blow me away. I would be thrilled to shell out some bucks at a bookstore to read one of her stories.

Speaking of Mavens in the midst of revisions, I can't wait for Maven Darcy to finish hers so I can read the final project!!!

*wiggles around excitedly in ergonomic office chair*

ERiCA said...

*stares at the "comment" she just posted*

I am so long-winded I make me cry :(

Kelly Krysten said...

OH wow, Mavens, Great topic!!! Especially since I'm knee deep in revisions and REALLY need this. I have no advice myself.Sorry.And Erica thanks for the links!

lacey kaye said...

I'll take one! (Don't you owe me money? No? Darn.) Hilarious post, D. I'm with Erica -- I love the part about the shoes.

Have fun with your revisions, Kelly. Snort. :-)

E -- what a lovely comment to wake up to! Why thank you! But then, I'm one of those people who luuuuuuvs revising. Writing? eh.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Great post, Darcy. And thanks for the links, Erica.

I don't really have a method to my madness. I write the whole thing and then set it aside, then I go through and read it again (making notes along the way) and I revise as needed so it flows. I can't really put my finger on what makes the scenes flow, but I know when it happens and when it doesn't.

Kelly Krysten said...

LMAO, Lacey...you're so sweet.lol.

Jacqueline Barbour said...

I definitely want a Revisalator. You know I hate to revise and will do anything to get out of it :->!

Darcy Burke said...

Erica, I checked out your posts. I'm in awe of the scene spreadsheet. Hell, I'm in awe of all your tools!

I have to add (and should have in my post, duh) that I recently read a book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. I'd quote some nuggets from it (there are quite a few), but I've loaned it to Jacq. Quote a nugget, Jacq!!

Bill Clark said...

*Bill chews on Erica's long-winded comment/post*

Reading not so much between the lines as taking the requisite time to actually read them all, one sees a pattern beginning to emerge:

"...that'll be me shortly...not one but three stories on the horizon, needing revision...we'll see how well I do next week when I start putting my money where my mouth is..."

Hmmm...a careful textual reading would seem to suggest that Erica had a successful time at RWA, with someone or several someones requesting serious final revision work on three of her manuscripts...now that's what I call good news!!

*Bill begins to think that either Erica can't keep a secret, or, more probably, doesn't really want to...he goes off to prepare a major squee against the time that the VIN actually hits the airwaves (or whatever) of cyberspace*

ERiCA said...

...with someone or several someones requesting serious final revision work on three of her manuscripts...now that's what I call good news!!

That would certainly be good news!

However, even before I went to the RWA conference I had decided to revise Touched, and once I finish DATD's first draft, of course that will need revision. (Third MS in my queue being TATTF.)

But thank you so much for your confidence in me!!!

lacey kaye said...

Backing up my buddy here...not that I don't wish good things for Erica, we've been prepping for the revisions for awhile. I happen to have already read the mss in question, but Darcy started reading Touched way before Dallas. So... ya know, just sayin...

Wendy Roberts said...

AAACK! You posted about the "R" word =O
I can't read a word *covering my eyes* Nope. Don't wanna hear or read the "R" word for a few more weeks.

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