My Writers Circle

Writing => All the Write Questions => Topic started by: Dean on June 01, 2013, 01:34:31 PM

Title: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Dean on June 01, 2013, 01:34:31 PM
How do you know what to edit when writing? Do you leave it a day while thinking it over? Do you write various alternative versions of the same chapter/events? Feedback here is helpful, of course, but there's only so much you can reasonably expect!
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 2par on June 01, 2013, 01:57:53 PM
I mostly self edit as I write. Then, I'll go back after a page or two and re-edit. When the thing is done, I'll leave it alone for awhile. Then go back and rewrite.
If it's a long piece and I have to leave it for awhile before coming back to it, I always reread everything, right from the start no matter how long it is. It's amazing how much you can catch by rereading with a fresh mind. Then I'll rewrite.
Sometimes, if I don't have much time, I'll just self edit as I go along and toss it wherever.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: bri h on June 01, 2013, 03:22:26 PM
I'm the same as Toop. I edit as I write, then when finished I go back and re-read it through to see if any escaped. Then I leave it for a while then re-read it again. B
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 510bhan on June 01, 2013, 03:30:08 PM
I recently took part in Script Fever and turned a novel into a screenplay . . . it really showed what were the essential scenes and what was probably fluff -- well-written enough but not essential to driving the plot forward. That helped. I've just cut around 8k from the ms. :o
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 2par on June 01, 2013, 03:42:06 PM
bhan, that's a really good idea. When you find yourself stuck or lose your way, change your piece into some other genre. It may give you more help than you suspected.
What do you plan on doing with it now, bhan?Will you improve your novel or the screeplay?
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 510bhan on June 01, 2013, 03:44:12 PM
It's also a reason why I hang out in the Poetry Boards ;) Some great inspiration there from beautifully condensed expression.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: bri h on June 01, 2013, 03:45:05 PM
totally agree. xbx
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Jo Bannister on June 03, 2013, 04:39:16 AM
I edit as I go along.  I edit any time I get stuck.  After I finish a first draft, I put it aside for a fortnight then edit it.  Then I edit it again, and again, and probably again.  I only stop editing it when I find myself putting back things I took out in a previous edit!  By and large I over-write: put in more than the story needs or wants to propel it forward.  Typically, I take out about ten percent between finishing the first draft and sending it to my agent.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Pale Writer on June 03, 2013, 07:09:32 AM
I look at the pieces after from the mc's pov, rather than how I as the writer viewed at conception. If there are multi-players, I make sure that their individual views remain in the forefront. Then I smooth out their edges.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: hillwalker3000 on June 03, 2013, 12:51:23 PM
What I write today - often long-hand on paper - I read through again tomorrow, editing as I type it up onto my laptop. This helps me maintain the same 'voice' if I'm continuing with a longer piece.

I then let it lie two or three weeks before reading through and editing again. It's surprising how different something looks after being laid aside for a time.

H3K
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Dean on June 03, 2013, 12:54:11 PM
What I write today - often long-hand on paper - I read through again tomorrow, editing as I type it up onto my laptop. This helps me maintain the same 'voice' if I'm continuing with a longer piece.

I then let it lie two or three weeks before reading through and editing again. It's surprising how different something looks after being laid aside for a time.

H3K

Could you please elaborate on what you mean here?
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 510bhan on June 03, 2013, 01:01:29 PM
The 'voice' is just that -- the tone, the sound, the timbre of the piece relative to the characters and the story. Depending on what you write and what you're trying to achieve there will be nuances of difference even from the same author. ;)
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: hillwalker3000 on June 03, 2013, 01:26:08 PM
At the moment I'm working on a novel set in Mississippi and another set in Scotland. The characters and narrator sound completely different in each, for obvious reasons. So it helps me if I read the last part I wrote before continuing with the next to keep the 'voice', tone and pace consistent.

H
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: WordBird on June 03, 2013, 04:15:50 PM
I edit/revise in a variety of ways. I tend to edit while I write for spelling, word choice, sentence structure, etc. But once I'm done with a piece I let it sit for a while. Then I come back to it and do a complete overhaul for a "here's what I meant to say."

Creativity has a tendency to strike me in the same variety. Either an idea comes forth faster than I can type it, or it strikes more in the form of just that: an idea that I have to work to flesh out. The former is something that is darn near as perfect as I can get the first time; the latter is something where the final draft seldom looks anything near the first.

As you will find with much of the advice on the forums here, as a writer you will have to find your own style with a lot of different components to the writing process. And revising is one of those.  :)

Best,
WB
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: cswillson on June 10, 2013, 09:46:46 PM
Constantly.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Wolfe on June 10, 2013, 10:18:27 PM
1. First Draft: Handwritten. If I read a passage aloud to someone, I'll note changes or errors with a pen.

2. Second Draft: Transcribe to computer. I'll make any obvious changes needed as far as missing words, misspellings, or grammar.

3. Third Draft: Read Aloud. I'll make changes as far as the music of the words or clarity here. I'll also delete repetition or unneeded passages.

4. Fourth Draft: Read Aloud. Dialogue only. Here, I'll make changes as far as region-speak or dialect. I'll also test if the dialogue alone makes the story clear. If not, I'll clarify. I'll also make sure each character has a distinct voice. If they don't, their dialogue gets an overhaul.

5. Fifth Draft: Read Silently. Now, I'll check plot holes or unanswered questions. I'll make sure I've answered all cliffhangers by novel's end. All plots and subplots must be answered. No questions must be left behind.

6. Six Draft: Test Readers (Story Stage). At this stage, I give the draft to my beta readers. These specific readers look for anything I may have missed in the Fifth Draft. They'll also answer specific questions I ask of them.

7. Seventh Draft: Polish. I polished those areas highlighted in the Sixth Draft.

8. Eight Draft: Test Readers (SPaG Stage). Again, I'll give the draft to the next set of beta readers. These readers check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I also allow them to mark anything else that stands out.

9. Ninth Draft: Polish. I polish those areas highlighted in the Seventh Draft.

10. Tenth Draft: Read-Back. At this stage, I'll use a reader, human or electronic, to read the work back to me. If human, I'll ask the reader to mark any place they stumble. If computer, I'll mark any passage that sounds odd or where the computer stumbles . . . this happens believe it or not.

11. Eleventh Draft: Corrections. Here, I rewrite any areas where the above reader stumbled due to rhythm or confusion. In most cases, knock on wood, this is very little after everything beforehand.

12. Twelfth Draft. Agent. I'll send this copy for her to review. She'll make any suggested changes. Again, in most cases, there should be little-to-no changes outside of adding or removing areas.

13. Thirteen Draft. Re-edit as it applies above. This can take a while, and I may be forced to start from the First Draft again if the agent despises something or everything and drastic changes need to occur. Yes, this can happen. Your agent may hate everyone in the book except the dog. A complete rewrite will be required. Ask Nick Sparks.

14. Fourteenth Draft. Agent and House Editor. This draft is examined by both agent and house editors. Again, if I've done my job right, only minor changes occur as far as style, voice, or personal tastes.

15. Fifteenth Draft. House Polish for changes noted above. Again, this can vary depending on what does or doesn't work for the publishing house.

16. Sixteenth Draft. Uncorrected Proof. These drafts are the printed, and paperback versions of the final draft. These are given free for review to critics, editors, or your fellow authors for potential commentary on the novel's jacket or inside pages. This is my next-to-last chance to make changes or fixes due to their review.

17. Seventeen Draft. Corrected Proof. This draft is where I'll make changes, if needed, should anyone above find an error everyone else missed.

18. Eighteenth Draft. Last Chance. This draft is the copy that gets mass-printed, if you're a traditional author. This is my last chance to fix anything I find. More often than not, the only changes should be from computer glitches or errors in translation. Honestly, at this stage, I'm sick of the book and ready to write a new one. Once you're sick of your work, it's ready to see print.

19. Nineteenth Draft. Final Copy. This is it. The product that's sold on the shelf. Hopefully, error-free, and another bestseller.

20. Signed Copy. This is the last time I make a change to my book. I simply add a signature or other commentary my fanatical and loyal fans ask of me.

And that's my process. ;)
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Annmarie on June 11, 2013, 07:22:57 AM
Wow, Wolfe. Respect.

By your list, I'm only on the sixth draft, which makes me want to go climb under a rock. All those drafts left. Ack! What masochists we writers are.  ;D
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Wolfe on June 11, 2013, 04:11:20 PM
Thank you. :) You know, it's so funny you say that because I'm so used to the process, I think it's normal and the best-case scenario. If something goes horribly wrong at stage 12-14, it can be hellish to go back to stage 1 again.

Yes, it happens. And I remind myself that everyone is trying to get the best the work can be before I stick needles in their voodoo dolls or send the hairy eyeball. Yeah, get your skin nice and thick here before you even attempt to test it out there.

Seriously. They don't pull punches when it comes to the bottom-line.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Annmarie on June 12, 2013, 01:29:03 AM
Thank you. :) You know, it's so funny you say that because I'm so used to the process, I think it's normal and the best-case scenario. If something goes horribly wrong at stage 12-14, it can be hellish to go back to stage 1 again.

Yes, it happens. And I remind myself that everyone is trying to get the best the work can be before I stick needles in their voodoo dolls or send the hairy eyeball. Yeah, get your skin nice and thick here before you even attempt to test it out there.

Seriously. They don't pull punches when it comes to the bottom-line.

You and my first newspaper editor are soul mates.  You're not from Philly, are you?  :D

Could you help thicken my skin a bit via my query in Prose Workshop? Would appreciate your help.

Back to the topic-- I retype the early drafts front to back. Not efficient, but helps me keep the flow of the work.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Dean on June 15, 2013, 11:50:29 AM
1. First Draft: Handwritten. If I read a passage aloud to someone, I'll note changes or errors with a pen.

2. Second Draft: Transcribe to computer. I'll make any obvious changes needed as far as missing words, misspellings, or grammar.

3. Third Draft: Read Aloud. I'll make changes as far as the music of the words or clarity here. I'll also delete repetition or unneeded passages.

4. Fourth Draft: Read Aloud. Dialogue only. Here, I'll make changes as far as region-speak or dialect. I'll also test if the dialogue alone makes the story clear. If not, I'll clarify. I'll also make sure each character has a distinct voice. If they don't, their dialogue gets an overhaul.

5. Fifth Draft: Read Silently. Now, I'll check plot holes or unanswered questions. I'll make sure I've answered all cliffhangers by novel's end. All plots and subplots must be answered. No questions must be left behind.

6. Six Draft: Test Readers (Story Stage). At this stage, I give the draft to my beta readers. These specific readers look for anything I may have missed in the Fifth Draft. They'll also answer specific questions I ask of them.

7. Seventh Draft: Polish. I polished those areas highlighted in the Sixth Draft.

8. Eight Draft: Test Readers (SPaG Stage). Again, I'll give the draft to the next set of beta readers. These readers check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I also allow them to mark anything else that stands out.

9. Ninth Draft: Polish. I polish those areas highlighted in the Seventh Draft.

10. Tenth Draft: Read-Back. At this stage, I'll use a reader, human or electronic, to read the work back to me. If human, I'll ask the reader to mark any place they stumble. If computer, I'll mark any passage that sounds odd or where the computer stumbles . . . this happens believe it or not.

11. Eleventh Draft: Corrections. Here, I rewrite any areas where the above reader stumbled due to rhythm or confusion. In most cases, knock on wood, this is very little after everything beforehand.

12. Twelfth Draft. Agent. I'll send this copy for her to review. She'll make any suggested changes. Again, in most cases, there should be little-to-no changes outside of adding or removing areas.

13. Thirteen Draft. Re-edit as it applies above. This can take a while, and I may be forced to start from the First Draft again if the agent despises something or everything and drastic changes need to occur. Yes, this can happen. Your agent may hate everyone in the book except the dog. A complete rewrite will be required. Ask Nick Sparks.

14. Fourteenth Draft. Agent and House Editor. This draft is examined by both agent and house editors. Again, if I've done my job right, only minor changes occur as far as style, voice, or personal tastes.

15. Fifteenth Draft. House Polish for changes noted above. Again, this can vary depending on what does or doesn't work for the publishing house.

16. Sixteenth Draft. Uncorrected Proof. These drafts are the printed, and paperback versions of the final draft. These are given free for review to critics, editors, or your fellow authors for potential commentary on the novel's jacket or inside pages. This is my next-to-last chance to make changes or fixes due to their review.

17. Seventeen Draft. Corrected Proof. This draft is where I'll make changes, if needed, should anyone above find an error everyone else missed.

18. Eighteenth Draft. Last Chance. This draft is the copy that gets mass-printed, if you're a traditional author. This is my last chance to fix anything I find. More often than not, the only changes should be from computer glitches or errors in translation. Honestly, at this stage, I'm sick of the book and ready to write a new one. Once you're sick of your work, it's ready to see print.

19. Nineteenth Draft. Final Copy. This is it. The product that's sold on the shelf. Hopefully, error-free, and another bestseller.

20. Signed Copy. This is the last time I make a change to my book. I simply add a signature or other commentary my fanatical and loyal fans ask of me.

And that's my process. ;)

I feel so...inadequate  :o...

Thanks for taking the time to share. I shall be sure to incorporate some of your tips...baby steps though, right? I've actually taken to writing longhand first after you and a few other members have mentioned it.

Incidentally, given how much time the revising must take, how long do you spend on planning?
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 2par on June 15, 2013, 12:03:23 PM
Planning? Do you mean planning your next story/poem, etc.?
I think about something a lot before committing any of it to paper.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Wolfe on June 19, 2013, 07:28:53 PM
Incidentally, given how much time the revising must take, how long do you spend on planning?

I used to be fanatical with outlines, index cards, and other methods to plan the work. Now, I just know how the novel ends . . . usually . . . and write toward that ending. But, to answer your question, I plan the following:

1. The theme or message I intend with the novel.

2. The title.

3. The ending.

4. The key protagonist(s).

5. The key antagonist(s).

6. The conflict.

7. The goal for each character.

8. The setting.


All that may sound involved, but honestly I have most of that in my head before I finish the last novel. More to the point, I have a bad habit of writing the next novel in my head before I finish the current project. I've been told that's a good thing, to plan ahead and all, but sometimes I wonder.

The rest? I just make up as I go along. I've said it before, but part of the real joy about writing a novel is how certain unexpected events and actions from characters can surprise and delight you. In many ways, it's like reading the work you're writing at the same time.

Don't cheat yourself from the experience. The unpredictable in a novel will keep you and your readers guessing. No, it doesn't always work. Sometimes, you must backtrack and delete. But, sometimes, the results amaze and delight all involved.

Have the basics for your story done in your head, but allow your imagination and subconscious to write the rest. Again, the results may surprise you.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Aspell on June 19, 2013, 08:21:56 PM
When logic fails.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Alice, a Country Gal on June 19, 2013, 08:42:44 PM
When logic fails.

Not really Aspell - perhaps it is more - logic is different fro different people.

Each of us have to find the method (or logic) that works best for them.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Aspell on June 19, 2013, 09:00:55 PM
Not really Aspell - perhaps it is more - logic is different fro different people.

Each of us have to find the method (or logic) that works best for them.


I'm just saying one out of numerous things that one must edit, logical fallacy as in something that can crash your plot.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: cswillson on June 20, 2013, 07:17:01 AM
I'm just saying one out of numerous things that one must edit, logical fallacy as in something that can crash your plot.

What are you smoking?
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Wolfe on June 20, 2013, 03:17:07 PM
I honestly didn't understand it either.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 2par on June 20, 2013, 05:42:25 PM
Huh?
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Rachael on June 21, 2013, 12:22:30 AM
I think he means that he has to go back and find where things don't make sense - then edit it out or fix it up.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Wolfe on June 21, 2013, 03:19:46 AM
If that's the case, given. But, the latter question involved planning. If it's a question of logic during that stage, I let common sense dictate what is right and what makes no sense. Otherwise, I leave that for editing.

The number one thing to do, at that stage, is just to get the story complete. Otherwise, you'll spend years second-guessing your efforts and never getting anything done.

Tie that critic up until the novel's finished. Afterwards, he can whip you into submission later. But, you'll always have your completed work. And, just so we're all on the same page, do you know how many people can't even begin to form a complete sentence much less a complete novel?

Writers should be proud of that ability. Most people can only dream of doing it, much less doing it well and as a career. ;)
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 2par on June 21, 2013, 11:27:07 AM
I love your attitude, Wolfe. very nice.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: cswillson on June 21, 2013, 11:33:47 AM

The number one thing to do, at that stage, is just to get the story complete.

Okay, here's a question that I haven't been able to resolve. Point me down one path or the other. Which is more important, in order to get past an agent or publisher, story or plot? Or, to make the question easier, is it just voice?
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Wolfe on June 21, 2013, 06:09:20 PM
For an agent, it's story, voice, plot in that order. As always, story tops all because that's the draw that makes readers buy books. Don't get me wrong, voice and plot are important too. But if the story is garbage, it won't sell. Voice and plot be damned.

Voice is second because if you can't tell a good story well . . . well, refer to sentence number two above. You can write a book with little-to-no plot. Literary fiction proves this. So, plot is the red-haired stepchild in this equation.

Agents want a strong story first with a strong voice telling it second. Plot? That's the slutty friend among three girls. She's cool, but she's spread her legs so often that everyone knows her. In other words, most believe there are around seven basic plots, according to Chris Booker, and everyone's read them. This is sound. So, your plot isn't going to surprise anyone in this business.

We've all had her before.

My apologies if the slutty friend analogy offends anyone. I gave her dinner and dancing first if it makes you feel better.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: bri h on June 21, 2013, 06:22:46 PM
And did you respect her, after?  ;D
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: cswillson on June 22, 2013, 07:22:23 AM
And did you respect her, after?  ;D

The three most common lies told: The check is in the mail; I'll respect you in the morning; I'm from your government, I'm here to help you.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: bri h on June 22, 2013, 09:02:28 AM
I heard it slightly more baser than this. Send me a request in pm and I'll send it you.  ;D B
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: 2par on June 22, 2013, 01:32:15 PM
As a reader, I have always, always considered story above everything else, even when the writing is bad.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: WordBird on July 05, 2013, 11:31:58 AM
As a reader, I have always, always considered story above everything else, even when the writing is bad.

I wish I could say that, but I can't. There are too many things that just bug me and distract from the story. Even if it is non-fiction, if the writer gets off on a story that doesn't add value to the book, I get hung up on it. As a reader, if the writing is bad, the story or message is diluted.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: ChrisHarrison on July 07, 2013, 05:48:36 AM
12. Twelfth Draft. Agent. I'll send this copy for her to review. She'll make any suggested changes. Again, in most cases, there should be little-to-no changes outside of adding or removing areas.

13. Thirteen Draft. Re-edit as it applies above. This can take a while, and I may be forced to start from the First Draft again if the agent despises something or everything and drastic changes need to occur. Yes, this can happen. Your agent may hate everyone in the book except the dog. A complete rewrite will be required. Ask Nick Sparks.


Do you not have the chance to talk to your agent about your novel before you reach draft 12 and avoid the possibility of having the whole lot despised?

Chris
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: ChrisHarrison on July 07, 2013, 06:23:06 AM
In general terms I go through four phases.

The first phase is to get the story out of my head and into the computer. The first draft is rough with some chapters quite complete, others very sketchy, but with everything written and in sequence I can go to phase two.

The second phase isn't concerned with the writing (prose, style, PoV, spelling etc), but with the story. I'll spend a couple of weeks in cafes, bars, during long walks analysing the thing to death to make sure it's the story I wanted to tell, makes sense, means something, justifies its existence. By the end of this process if anyone asks me 'why did they do that' or 'what's the point of this conversation' I can justify it. I think this is the same as the analytical process I go through in my day job as a designer, be it graphic design or landscape design, when the client says 'why this, why that' you have no problem answering. You've thought about it. You've already asked yourself those questions.

The third phase is to go back to the novel and rewrite it to make sure all the analysis is covered. Some parts might need a big rewrite, some structural changes, other parts might have been nailed first time. The sketchy bits are written in full. It should start to look like a proper novel now!

The fourth phase is the read, edit, read, edit phase. I'm happy with the story by now, so the rest is to do with correcting errors, improving the flow, sharpening the dialogue, setting the scene. I don't have a methodology as detailed as Wolfe, but the latest draft of my novel is number 5 and the revisions to it were writing style, typos and such.*

Chris

*And then I joined this forum! The novel isn't about to be rewritten, but I am now thinking about a complete rewrite of one of the early chapters after reading some of the points raised in the review sections.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: Svader on July 07, 2013, 05:19:03 PM
I tend to write as long as I am in the zone and if I hit a wall I will then go back and start reading from the beginning and edit as I read. One of the most helpful things I have found is to have someone else read it and tell me their opinion on it. Then I will go through it again and edit it. Usually y that time I am ready to continue writing.
Title: Re: How do you revise your pieces?
Post by: LRSuda on July 08, 2013, 01:43:42 PM
Is this essential to the story? It's what I ask myself as I read over my first drafts. If it's not, I chuck it no matter how much I may like it because it's not about me. It's about the story. Once I have all that sorted out, I read again. Are the sentences clunky? Is the writing clear? Is the voice consistent? Are the voices of my characters distinguishable? When I think I have all that right, I go over it again, then pass it along to beta readers to check for any screw ups I missed. Some work I'll post on the boards just to make sure no one else missed anything wrong. Long process. But you have to trust your gut. When it's right, you know it.