Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Shake It Up

Maven Darcy BurkeSo it seems we're talking revision this week. (And last week too, I guess, remember the Revisalator? I'm still taking orders...) Of course, that's because the Mavens are all in various parts of revision. I am putting the final polish on my partial. That dreaded / heralded / contested / overread / critted to death first three chapters. How many times have you "tweaked" them? I won't tell you the torture I applied to my first ms before tucking it under the bed. I will tell you that the opening of Glorious has remained pretty much the same since the first draft. I finaled with the first 25 pages in the first contest I entered it in, so I was a little afraid to mess with it too much. But, like James Bond's martinis, perhaps shaken is better than stirred and a bit of an overhaul might help it to the next level (that being agentdom!). So, I sent it to a fresh pair of eyes (yay for virgin readers!) and prepared to chop it up.

Okay, maybe I wasn't prepared to chop it up (aren't we always hoping we're closer to done than we thought?), but I kept an open mind, especially since I hadn't changed it much since I wrote the first draft months and months ago. Sure, I line edited it, but the bones were the same. Virgin Reader was awesome and gave me some great ideas to really up the conflict. Now I'm only a POV question (to rewrite a scene in another POV or not?) and a closing hook away from perfection, er, completion.

I must say that this revision has been very inspiring for when I write my next book. I think the first draft of that ms will be much cleaner and I have ideas for what to do on that first draft from an organizational perspective to pave the way for a smoother revision. And revision isn't all revising existing stuff. As Maven Lacey has said, love your delete key (or something close to that, anyway). And when you delete, you usually have to write something else instead. I actually wrote 7000 new words over two days last week. Holy flaming keyboard, Batman!

Last week I sent an email to the Mavens about how we get to know our characters so well that revising that crucial opening becomes difficult. It's like explaining your favorite movie to someone who's never seen it before. You get all excited about your fave bits and they stand there and look at you with this "I don't get it" expression and pretty soon you just say, "well, maybe you'll rent it" and the conversation limps on to a new topic. I don't know if that made any sense at all, but at midnight it makes perfect sense to me.

Do you have an idea as to how you might shake things up? How do you bring a fresh idea to a tired ms (or an ms you're tired of)? Remember, if you're stuck, you can always have your hero shout: "I wear women's underwear!" That'll shake it up.

P.S. to my mom: PINCH PUNCH, first day of the month!


lacey kaye said...

OMG Darcy. Underwear.

As you know, Bob, yesterday was my own private Revision Hell. I think I shouldered through it all right, but I did get a very scary letter from my virgin reader. Apparently, I edited all the good things about the hero out when I tried to start the book closer to the action. Sope. Good thing I save each revision! I love the Delete key, but I love the Save key more ;-)

Jackie Barbosa said...

You mean there's a difference between men's and women's underthings? (Runs up to check the lingerie drawers.)

I have to say, though, that I think my second book's beginning should suffer much less Revisionitis than the first because I'm finally figuring out where/how to start. It did manage to finish third in the Fab Five, so it can't be too bad :). Of course, the original beginning of Unbridled finished third in two contests, so why did I change it in the first place?

Oh, yeah, because it was BORING and the story changed.

/Sigh. Can't wait to finish eking out this partial. Makes my brain hurt!

Darcy Burke said...

Yes, save is a beautiful thing. I have every version I wrote of ms #1. And I've gone back to a few of them for one reason or another so I'm a big fan of Save.

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens