Month: June 2015

Reading Your Work Aloud

On Thursday I took my first dive into the revision process- it ended up being a seven hour dive. My stuff needed some WORK, y’all. Ernest Hemingway was giving me that What’d I tell you? expression the whole time.

Truth.

Truth.

Anyway, the next morning, I woke up and started reading over what I’d done the night before. After accidentally reading the same line three times (my cue that I’m not really processing anything I’m reading), I remembered a tip about reading aloud and decided to try it out. I immediately picked up on several grammatical errors and typos that I’d missed after a dozen silent passes, but I think the biggest benefit was just really hearing the flow of the sentences. I made some major changes to some dialogue that I found totally unnatural after reading it out loud. Eventually though, I found myself reading the words, but not really following the story – like when teachers would make you read in front of the class when you were little, and then have the nerve to ask you a question about what you just read. This is when I had the bright idea to record myself. That way, I could listen to my story without the distraction of reading it. My own personal audiobook! I opened up Garage Band on my laptop and got to work.

Garage bandAfter allowing myself to cringe a little at the sound of my own voice, and after goofing around with all the lovely effects Garage Band has to offer, I sat back and listened. I sat on my bed cheesing and just basking in the “I wrote this!” glory while also noting some important changes to make. I loved it so much and found it so valuable that I declared I would record the entire novel as I revised it.  That ambition didn’t last long for two main reasons:

  1. I spent an hour and a half recording the first eight pages. Eventually I found myself obsessing over misspeaking- deleting and rerecording like I was actually creating an audiobook that would heard by the masses.
  2. Dialogue got tricky once more than two characters came into play. I felt goofy doing my best impression of a male voice, but I managed. When it was time to play the role of four different characters, I failed miserably. I thought about just throwing in extra dialogue tags verbally for the sake of the recording, but that would only disrupt the flow of my storyline and speaking.

So perhaps I won’t be recording my entire novel, but I definitely expect to use this tool here and there throughout the revision process. Do you have any special tricks that help you revise?

-ED

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Writing the Second Draft

So far, I’ve devoted about ten hours to revising the first 25 pages of my book. I’ve read that first drafts either, A) come up short on detail in an effort to just to get the main idea out, or B) they are filled with excess stuff that doesn’t really contribute to the plot. In situation A, important details will have to be added upon revision– gotta make sure all those ideas progress logically, and at the right pace. In situation B, the writer will have to make some tough decisions about what needs to get axed and what gets to stay. If I were forced to pick A or B, I’d say I fall into the A camp, but of course most people, including myself, would be better placed somewhere on the spectrum between the two.

Those first 25 pages were originally 16. At first I was concerned about adding so much so early. If I kept this up, my book would probably be over 115,000 words, which is no good for my genre. I don’t think it’ll play out that way though. I have to remember that the pages I’m editing now were written over a year ago. My story has grown and changed a good deal during that time and certain things at the beginning need to be adjusted to suit those changes.

I kinda adore that I can spend all these hours focused and working without it feeling like work. It’s tough, and I definitely feel the need for a brain break when I’m done, but I’m finding the process enjoyable. Now I’ve only just begun, but so far, I find revisiting my story and thinking about how to improve upon it far more enjoyable than pushing out that first draft. Not sure if that is typical or odd… what are your experiences? How did your feelings change between completing the first draft and switching on those revision gears to write draft 2?

-ED

Editing: Day 1

I officially started editing/revising my first draft today! I was going to start last night, but instead I read a book (The DUFF, which I started around 8pm and didn’t put down until I finished it at 2am). Anyway, I got comfy on my couch, whipped out my multicolored pens, and came up with this beautiful color legend:

Lovely, isn't it? Especially the handwriting.

Lovely, isn’t it? Especially the handwriting.

Of course, I forgot to change pens here and there while editing so the whole thing is pretty much obsolete, but that’s alright.

I started with chapter one (I’ve read about people starting with random chapters to view it more objectively, but I know there a few plot and continuity issues I need to correct before I can do that). Chapter one was probably one of the longer chapters in my book, coming in at eleven pages, while most others are about eight. It took me about three hours to sift through the content on those pages (with women’s World Cup soccer as a frequent distraction). I made several changes, from swapping one word for another, to replacing or deleting entire paragraphs. It felt nice to strike through lines and lines of nonsense. By the end of it though, my eleven paged first chapter turned into two chapters spanning fourteen pages. Not only do I feel better about the content, but I managed to split up that clunky first chapter into a size that fits better with the flow of the rest of the book.

Last summer I set word count goals, and that worked out pretty well for me (during the summer- that absolutely did NOT work when I started back teaching). Since goal setting helped me through a large part of my first draft, I’m going to do the same with the editing process. So here it is:

  • Edit one chapter per day (on average), for a total of 7 chapters per week.
    • My first draft is 35 chapters so in a perfect world, I could finish editing the whole thing in 5 weeks (before I return to work full time, which is kind of critical)
  • Editing should include making paper/pen changes and then adding the edited content to my Draft 2 word document

Sounds good now, but as usual, I’ll see how the first week plays out and then decide if my goals are realistic or not.

I have lots of fun plans this weekend so I’m off to start editing chapter two in anticipation of not having time to get much done Friday and Saturday.

🙂

-ED

I wrote a book y’all

I finished the first draft of my first novel about a week and a half ago. I think it’s finally set in… both the fact that I actually finished it, and the fact that I have to do something else with it. I’ve spent a good deal of time working to convince myself that what I’ve created isn’t 100% crap. Now, it may be 99% crap, but I can work with that. The big question is where to begin! This time last year I was digging up information on how to outline and get your story started. This year I have to tackle editing the first draft. Do I start with spelling, grammar, continuity, content? Do I do all of these things at once, or make several passes through? It’s pretty intimidating to look at my near-300 page stack of creative vomit and try to figure out how to polish it into something presentable. All I’ve managed to do is go on a mini office supply shopping spree.

Editing tools!

Okay, that’s not all I’ve done… I’ve also taken all of my bookmarks for landmarks and displayed them in a shadow box. Completing a novel from start to finish was something on my bucket list (more as a challenge to myself, not an arbitrary thing to tick off a list- this writing thing is forever) and I have a habit of not adequately celebrating/acknowledging my accomplishments so I wanted to do something nice. I also like the idea of keeping up with this new tradition for any future novels I may write.

My first draft and all eight bookmarks for landmarks

My first draft and all bookmarks for landmarks

If you have any editing tips, please share them!

-ED

PS. Fun coincidence… today is an exact year since my very first blog post!