Revision: Day 17

May 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm (Anatomy of a revision)

Today Chapter 6 gets written! And oh, I like how I’ve ended it. This revision is getting substantially bloodier.

Chapter 7 may be a problem, since I’m knitting together three different pieces. Still, I think I can pull it together in the morning and have the evening free for tweaking Chapter 8. The shape of that one is still the same, it’s just a matter of which characters are taking which roles.

Also, one of the advantages of having to do laundry at the laundromat — and there are few — is that I have a block of time where I’m sitting down away from the computer and away from most other distractions. (Small children who think my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is the Best Sippy Cup Evar do not count.) So I scrawled notes on several more chapters, including one that has been giving me trouble for some time.

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Revision: Day 16

May 12, 2011 at 6:52 am (Anatomy of a revision)

Okay, so maybe Chapter 6 won’t get written today.

But here, have a link to an illustration of trouble with character-wrangling. Perhaps I need to add more tigers. And free beer.

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Revision: Day 15

May 11, 2011 at 9:59 am (Anatomy of a revision)

Wrote the new end of Chapter 5. It gets a little too deep into one character’s head, but I’ll fix that when I go through. Right now, it gets her where she needs to be.

Funny how much of this stage of revision is less polishing, more wrangling pieces into place. And yet I’m changing little things as well, especially when a scene works plot- and structure-wise, but the characters’ motivations have changed. This is, in many ways, a large-scale revision, and yet it doesn’t feel so very large; the story is, at heart, still the same.

Chapter 6 will get written tomorrow — or at least a chunk of it will — but for now, I paste in some of the pieces of the sequel that I’d decided fit better in the new Chapter Seven. This way, I’ll have less work to do when I attack that chapter; write a new end and stitch those pieces together.

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Revision: Day 14

May 10, 2011 at 10:27 am (Anatomy of a revision)

Chapter 4 gets revised in one long session, punctuated by breaks to get more coffee. Much of the chapter was all right before, but the context has changed, and the matter of what information needs to go where dictates which conversations stay. I chop off a section at the end as well, bringing the chapter back to a reasonable size. A similar scene will show up a few chapters later, anyway.

The beginning of Chapter 5 is also something that gets adjusted, although the rest of it will need to be composed anew. Still, it feels good to be a little farther along than I was, and I like being able to say that I fixed more than one chapter today.

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Revision: Day 13

May 9, 2011 at 11:06 am (Anatomy of a revision)

The end of chapter 3 drags on, and by evening I’m glaring at the screen. Still, I told myself I’d finish it today, and so neither the Dogfish Head beer in the fridge nor Portal 2 nor anything else gets done until I’ve finished it. 2,500 words later and with a splitting headache, I close the chapter.

It’s a hell of a lot better than the Chapter 3 I had before. Still, I hate days where the writing drags like this. They’re part of the job, but damn, do they make my head pound.

On the other hand, I’ve got an outline for Chapter 6 now, including a very nice “hey, remember the consequences you dodged back in Chapter 3? HERE THEY ARE! AND HERE’S ANOTHER ON TOP OF THAT!” moment. Also, since I’m still a little fuzzy on the details of the fights, the outline has one entry just marked “SECONDARY FRACAS.”

Secondary Fracas is more of an album name than a band name. Not sure whose album, though.

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Revision: Days 11 and 12

May 8, 2011 at 10:05 am (Anatomy of a revision)

Day 11: Finished Chapter 2 in two sessions. Now, with more explody! I mean, how did I not see how much of a serious flaw this was with the earlier draft? We didn’t get any decent explody till chapter four — and it wasn’t even that good compared to chapter seven! More explody.

Okay, technically there aren’t explosions. But they’re just as good.

Day 12: Half of Chapter 3 down. It helps that I wrote a scene in this particular city before — and then scrapped it — so my mental geography of it is relatively complete. Certain descriptions remain relevant, and those create new stages to play on.

And again, since this is composed from scratch (or more so than Chapter 4 will be, since I’ll be just making the changes I scrawled down), it’s going to need extra attention in the next go-round. But it now fits into the overall new structure, and I think it’s a better way to see this character. He’s not making any smarter decisions — it’ll be a while for that to kick in — but they’re catching up to him now, and he’s having to face the trouble he causes.

Well, some of that trouble, anyway. The rest will hit him in a few more chapters.

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Revision: Day 10

May 6, 2011 at 11:52 am (Anatomy of a revision)

Adjusted the conversation in Chapter 2, adding a participant who does more harm than good. (To the conversants, not the story.) The rest of the day is, sadly, a wash, although I get some very nice sibling interaction written as I’m fixing that conversation.

I don’t write about siblings nearly often enough (barring the creeeepy stuff in Wild Hunt). But it’s fun to set several related characters talking to each other, especially when they’re all so well acquainted and willing to needle their siblings mercilessly. This probably says something about how well I get along with my sisters.

Then again, the reader who said she likes how I write siblings (based on some early drafts of SE) also pointed out that all of my characters’ families are either screwed-up or missing people.  Hm.

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Revisions: Day 9

May 5, 2011 at 12:34 pm (Anatomy of a revision)

I begin work on Chapter 2, then go play with the cutest baby on the planet for a while. Oh, the hardship. I’m rewarded with smiles, frozen custard, and (less welcome) liberal amounts of unfortunate fluids down my shirt.

However, it does mean that I get a chance to hole up in a cafe for a little while to work on Chapter 2. I know I’m not fooling anyone when I take my laptop to a coffee shop, but working outside my usual space does sometimes help to reconfigure my thoughts. That’s if I can block out “Stayin’ Alive” and other disco hits on the radio. WHAT

Despite the music, I get about 2000 words written, then paste in a conversation from an earlier draft that just needs some tweaking to fit. It’s not as much as I’d hoped to get done, but it’s enough for such a full day.

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Revision: Day 8

May 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm (Anatomy of a revision)

Circumstances keep me away from the computer for most of the day, so I stick to longhand work: scrawling all over Chapter 4 so it’ll match the new Chapter 1 and outlining the new Chapter 5. I prefer to get a solid wordcount down for the day (or, if I’m in full revision mode, one chapter per day), but on days when I can’t be writing, I feel better if I get something done. And this means that once I have the two chapters in between here and there done, I’ll be able to switch right over without taking the time to scrawl and outline.

At least, that’s the plan. And no writing plan ever goes wrong, does it?

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Anatomy of a revision: Days 6 and 7

May 3, 2011 at 7:37 am (Anatomy of a revision)

Day 6: Yeah, so no. Didn’t get the outline of the new Chapter 1 finished, so I’m working on it today. However, I’m using the time to outline chapters 2 and 3, so I’ll be able to stay in composition mode for a while.

I really liked those beginning chapters, but they don’t work for this draft. They’re not the first opening chapters to get ditched; the first draft had what was essentially a three-chapter prologue, and while it was pretty cool, it got junked because it did not match what followed.

Obviously, the only solution is to use the pieces I’ve cut and turn each of them into a new short story.

Day 7: Write a new Chapter 1, keeping some elements of the original. This one’s lumpy, exposition-heavy, and needs more detail, but it does what I want it to do.

Any chapters I compose now will need an extra go-over when I go back to revise this draft, but right now I think this one will do. Moving from composition to editing mode is a little jarring at times, and I’m just glad I was able to get several thousand words down.

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Anatomy of a revision: Days 4 and 5

May 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm (Anatomy of a revision)

A lot of Day 4 went to family matters, but a couple of hours with coffee and a notebook meant that I:

  • figured out how to crush one character’s spirit, put him through his own personal hell, and then bring him out again renewed,
  • outlined the introduction of another character so that he’s not standing around doing diddly-squat for three chapters,
  • and started a timeline for the world, just so I have an idea of scale. It rapidly becomes clear that I’m crap at making timelines; I keep wanting to add notes that take up much more than their alloted space.

The resident organist suggests I start building a wiki for this world, based on some games of Lexicon that we’ve played. I might just do that — so long as it doesn’t keep me from the revision.

Day 5: Assembled the last of the crits, then took a long walk. At the end of it, sat down at a coffee shop and, with the help of a large dose of caffeine, wrote out a new outline that keeps the good parts while kick-starting the beginning, adding more action scenes (since according to the crit these were made of puppies and sparkles — not in so many words), and leading up to the ending in a more satisfactory way. I’m not yet sure how to restructure the end of it, but I think I can hold off on that for now. (And of course, now that this is on the net, once I reach that point I’ll be able to look back on this post and laugh. And laugh. And laugh.)

It’s really tempting to make estimates right now, along the lines of “If I get one chapter done per day, then I’ll have a draft ready by X date.” But that’s really not a good idea. Still, I think I can get enough momentum to barrel through some sections of this.

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