Writing Thursday: The Revision Grind; or, Advice From The Trenches

For those of you who are curious, yes, I am in fact still hard at work revising the first book in the Winterbourne series.  I’m currently on page 211 out of 249, which means I’m … uh … roughly 85% of the way through.  Looking at what’s left to change, there are only a couple of scenes (and the dratted epilogue) that need major work; the rest is just tweaking and reducing wordiness as much as possible.  I did finally manage to get the manuscript under 148,000 words (where I was stuck for weeks: I’d delete a scene and save five hundred words, only to add them back in again somewhere else).  I’m currently down to about 145,000.  It should probably be trimmed back more, but I just don’t know what else to cut out at this point.

In fact, I’ve reached the point where I’m just tired of looking at the silly thing.  Which is why Carrie Vaughn’s post this week was just the pep talk I needed.  You should go read it.  Just don’t forget to come back.

Okay, are you back?  Good.

So everything she says (including the part about wanting to stab your eyes out) is pretty much how I’ve been feeling about this particular story.  And yet, when I go back and read the scenes I’ve changed, I can see that they’re better.

There have been a couple of times in the past week when I’ve come across a sentence (or even a paragraph) that just plain doesn’t work the way it should.  I’ve worked at it and worked at it, until it’s really close to what I want.  But it’s not quite there yet, and I just don’t know what to do to make it better.

That’s when this particular phrase from Carrie’s posting kept ringing through my head:

“When you’ve changed one sentence ten times and it still doesn’t look right, you have to love the work enough that you’ll change it an eleventh time. “

With that in mind, I’ve gone on to change it that eleventh time.  And in some cases, the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, even twentieth time.  And every time I have, every time I’ve stuck with it and just kept hammering at it until it was right, I’ve been really pleased with the result.

So thank you, Carrie Vaughn.  If I ever get this thing published, you’re so getting a mention in the credits.

Meanwhile, my goal is to try to wrap up this revision by the end of January, so I can go back to finishing Book 3 of the series while I have some beta readers go over it for me.  (Still looking for some volunteers, by the way…)  And then…the scary step of writing a synopsis.

I’ll agonize about that here when the time comes.

What keeps other folks working on revisions when the words just stop making sense?


About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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