22 April 2015
R is for Revisions
I thought at first I'd explore the topic of rights on this day since a fundamental theme of my novel is Right to Farm laws in Colorado. But instead, I'll talk about something more pertinent to all authors: revisions.
When I first attempted a novel, I tried really hard to follow some sort of outline that would lead me along on a nice, tidy, pre-planned plot. But I soon learned that characters, especially the more developed they are, have a tendency to take the story down side streets they find more interesting. Those detours didn't always mesh neatly with parallel plots meant to mislead the readers from the real mystery at the heart of a good murder story.
At first I fought this misbehavior, but I soon realized these mis-directions were a kind of magic, and often led to fascinating insights and developments. I started letting go, to the point that I was writing chapters out of order, writing scenes that seemed to have no place in the story but defined a character or embellished a setting... even described events that would fit in an entirely different book!
I like the flow of this method, but I realize my revisionary future has also skyrocketed. I'll have to do a lot more rearranging, meshing, editing, re-reading, and probably more than once. That's okay. As my line editor points out - the fun begins after you've crapped it out and have something to work with.
My usual method is to write up to The End, then revise. But I'm thinking of trying a day-to-day revision process, or maybe spend one day a week revising what I've written the previous week. I have a tendency to lose interest in anything fairly quickly, including events in my story, so shorter revision windows might work better for me.
How about you? What's your revision process? Leave me a comment, please.