Monday, 31 March 2014

How I Revise & Edit

I'm in the middle of some revisions for my MS THE QUIETEST KIND, so I thought I would share exactly what it is that I do when I revise/edit and why I do it. Everyone revises differently--just like everyone writes differently: plotter, pantser, linear, non-linear, bursts of thousands of words or months of low word counts (like me). So here's what I do when it comes to the editing and revising process.

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After I type The End, it's time to walk away. I know this is an oft repeated piece of advice, but getting some space really is the best thing you can do for your story. I like to take the time to start brainstorming/drafting something new or to do something really productive like start binge-watching something on Netflix. After six months of being with the same characters, I know I won't be able to see the problems without spending some time away from them.


Once our time apart is over, it's time for a read-through. I HAVE to print the manuscript out for this part--I think there's something about seeing it in a different format that wakes my eyes and mind up and helps me pay closer attention.

(I call this a read-through but I'm actually incapable of reading my work without editing it, so it's more of a read-and-make-notes-and-savagely-cut-scenes-through. Some people read and make lists of all the changes that need to be made, but I know if I don't do them then and there I'd completely forget what it was I wanted to do.)

This part is really necessary for me because it takes me so long to finish a draft that the characters at the end are sometimes wildly different from the characters at the beginning. I definitely make decisions as I write--I want this person to be funnier, I want that person to be sharper, I want to make more of this plot point--and so things that are cemented by the time I get to the end are just flooping jelly-like back in chapter one. This is the time to change all that!

This is also the time to change all those sentences I knew were shitty when I wrote them but didn't have the energy to spend another hour on. You know the ones I mean. Yeah. Those ones.

So, by the end of all of this I have a very marked-up manuscript, usually some extra sheets of paper ripped out of a notebook with new scenes scribbled on them, and very tired eyes.


Here's the downside to making physical edits: now I have to transfer them all back into the document on the computer! It's tedious and always a struggle for me because I have the handwriting of a drunk five-year-old and leave myself the most curious coded comments for some reason. I recommend turning your music UP and banging it out as fast as you possibly can if you have to do this.


Step away from the computer. Watch more Sons of Anarchy. Percolate.

Me too, Jax. Me too.


(And by Kindle I mean iPad Kindle app.) This is a fun part! It looks like a book. A book without physical pages or a cover or…just go with it, okay? I can (virtually) flip the pages, see what percentage done I am, and (best part) make notes. Again, seeing the MS in a different format lets me look at it differently and spot errors, lines I meant to cut but somehow are still hanging around half-formed, punctuation crazies etc. This is also the first time I ever read almost straight through, because the notes I'm making this time are usually "cut" or "fix" or tweaking a sentence slightly and so I don't stop-start so much.

Because of that, this is usually when I start to see where things are dragging or where things are going off-piste and then I can make a note to KILL those scenes. (Like yesterday, I cut a bunch of scenes I wrote during THE PRINT-IT-OUT PART that I thought at the time were absolutely vital. No, they were slowing everything down and adding nothing so…chop chop.)


Type up all those notes. (More music here.)

THE LIST OF THINGS TO DO PART (aka the part I'm at right now)

As I do all of the above, I usually make a short list of vague things to work on. And I mean very vague--here, have some examples:
  • Maybe more dance for Rose
  • More sweet moments with Audrey and Julian
  • Also fix their schedules (what classes they take, what periods), when does Julian work, when does Rose dance
Nothing that needs huge thinking time going into it, but things that can be remedied with an extra line here and there, a couple of extra mentions.

So I'll go back to the document and tackle these things, and probably also find some other parts that can be tweaked or, y'know, completely rewritten…and then it's time for:


Yes, I'll read it again, hopefully find fewer errors this time and only a small amount of changes I want to make. Then:


Type up changes. More music. Much more music.

But once that's over, it's kind of scary. Because you know what comes next?


See, once I've done allllll of the above, I figure there's probably nothing else I can do on my own except for drive myself insane. This is where CPs and betas come in. I'll send it out, get it ripped to shreds (with, y'know, maybe some nice comments thrown in there too) and then…

Start the entire process over again!

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And that is how I revise.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

What's Up Wednesday: PJs Edition

{click here for a full list of participants!}

What I'm Reading:

I finished LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP and in the end, I loved it. It's a very quiet, emotionally intense story, and you know those are exactly the kinds of stories I fall in love with. I definitely recommend it if that's your kind of thing, too!

Now I'm reading WICKED LITTLE SECRETS, the second book in Kara Taylor's PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL series. Now, if you like rich kids, murder mysteries, cute boys (Anthony!) and smart girls, then this is definitely a series you need to check out.

What I'm Writing:

Drafting has gone on the back burner this week so I can spend some time revising THE QUIETEST KIND (oh, the sweet, sweet bliss of revision after the pain of drafting!)

This time around is a read-through for little things (spelling, punctuation etc.) and to see how the whole thing is coming together. Then I'll do complete any changes that I decide to make and hopefully send it out to readers! (Speaking of--if anybody wants to help me out in that arena, I would be eternally grateful!)

What Inspires Me Lately:

Um…lacking on the inspiration front this week. The writing life can be hard, y'all.

Oh, actually--here's something: this video by an amazingly articulate girl addressing what's going on in (part of) the YouTube world right now. I do watch a lot of YouTube, but mostly beauty/fashion videos, choreography, musicians--none of the people involved in the abuse allegations. So I don't have an excellent idea of who's who or the details of everything that's happening, but good lord…the way this girl speaks, the points she makes, the rage in her voice:

This is the kind of girl I want to write about, want to write for. I mean, I want to write for all the girls, but girls who are as passionate and informed and poised as she is--if they would read and get my books, that would make me the happiest writer in the world.

What Else I've Been Up To:

I'm on holiday from work right now and it's almost four in the afternoon and I'm still in my pyjamas so basically nothing! Except for yesterday, which was Poppa B's 50th birthday--we went out for family brunch and then did dinner, presents and cake in the evening.

Now I might go and put some real clothes on just so I can feel like a good, functioning human being for a little bit. Then again, I might go for  a nap…hmm. Decisions, decisions!


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

What's Up Wednesday: "GTFO, Flu" Edition

{click here for a full list of participants!}

I haven't hopped on the WUW train in a few weeks so I'm looking forward to catching up with everybody! Flu and general exhaustion have kept me from doing absolutely anything productive recently. Except for watching films (sidenote: if you don't think Speed is one of the greatest movies of all time, I don't think we can be friends). But I'm almost all recovered now, so let's do this. (Also, can we talk about how cute that little robot is?!)

What I'm Reading:

I've been in a lame reading funk for the past couple of weeks--I read the Dear Teen Me anthology which was fun but not exactly challenging, i.e. perfect for someone with the flu. Right now I'm trying to get into LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP by Amy McNamara--it's got quite a choppy, sparse style, and it's taking me some time to get used to it.

{How gorgeous is that cover?}

What I'm Writing:

I took a break from drafting so I'm trying to get back into it…slowly. Y'know, sometimes it takes five hours to write 200 words, but all words is words. If you know what I mean. (I'm not sure I even know what I mean.)

Last week when I had time off from work, I planned on transferring the MS I was working on before this, THE QUIETEST KIND, to my iPad and doing some editing on there…but again, the flu got in the way. So I'm behind on where I wanted to be with that story, but that's the way things go sometimes.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

My WIP is definitely a summer story which is probably part of why I'm really into this choreography and this song (Watch Out For This by Major Lazer)--I am just so ready for the sun and for summer to be here! I have my paddling pool (upgrade from last years Sainsbury's special), I have bikinis, I have a playlist. I am READY.

What Else I've Been Up To:

Oh, did I mention that I had the flu? Because I had the stupid, ridiculous, disgusting flu. Of course on my week off from work I had to be sick! I actually threw up, and I haven't thrown up in seven years. I don't do throwing up. I did watch the Oscars, though, for the first time in my life. I also went to the chemist's with two odd shoes on…win some, lose some.

But on the bright side, before I got sick I saw the QUEEN of my entire LIFE, Mrs Carter a.k.a. BeyoncĂ© a.k.a. Queen Bey. My love for this woman goes back so far…I used to tape Destiny's Child videos off the TV, just sit around in front of MTV (yeah, because MTV actually used to play music videos!) until they came on and then press record as fast as humanly possible. The woman dropped an album, seventeen videos, without even a word of warning--because she can, because she's BeyoncĂ©. So, she was flawless live, her band was amazing, her dancers were amazing, her backing singers were amazing and that's one thing I can check off the do-before-I-die wishlist. Next up: sell a book! Or maybe get an agent first, yeah? Yeah.