Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Re-Visioning

I know, I'm taking a lot of liberties with the English language here. However, what we do with a manuscript when we write the end of our first draft is revise. We make the prose sparkle, take out all the repetition, all the niggly words (just, then, and, right, actually, etc.), and try and make the manuscript sing.

What I'm talking about today is re-VISION. When you see your manuscript in a whole new light.

When I wrote THE LADY'S MASQUERADE two years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. However, I knew that as I wrote it, I would need to revise it, and to keep myself from falling off the deep end, I revised the previous day's work, the following day before I wrote new stuff. It kept the story fresh in my mind, and allowed me to see where I was going with it. (And for those of you who don't do this practice, I highly recommend it.)

I finished it and with all the hope and stupidity of a total newbie writer, I queried. I did garner some partial requests, but no fulls, and I decided to put it under the bed for safe keeping. I love that book, not only because it was the first I ever finished, but the story itself is so darn cute.

Now that I'm finished with the second book in the series, (And I have TOTALLY grown as a writer), I decided to take a look at THE LADY'S MASQUERADE again. I got into my notes from beta readers (who read it after I queried, yeah, see, told you I was a newbie) and read the book again. Well, sort of. I skimmed parts and basically just re-read the notes I had been given.

Oh. My. God. I can only *face palm* so many times in a day. Don't get me wrong, I have some really great stuff in there, but you can't see it for all the newbie-ness. The characters are way over-drawn, and those that aren't are so thin, they're just cardboard. I skipped good description on the important things in favor of bad on the unimportant. I have no control over my POV AT ALL, and even though the plot actually does stay together, there is so much tying up at the end, you might think I was a rodeo girl. I went way overboard in my zeal to craft the perfect ending.

So what does this mean? This my friends, means, that I have a new VISION for this book. As soon as I get my synopsis written for MisMATCHED, and query my little heart out, I'm diving into THE LADY'S MASQUERADE with renewed vigor. I'm ripping it apart, to shreds, to miniscule little pieces, and then will rewrite it within an inch of its life.

With everything I have learned over the last three years, I have every hope, it will become the book I once had the VISION of it becoming.

Tell me -- What does REVISION mean to you?


PS If you haven't had a chance to run by my awards post from Monday, please take a stroll down.

38 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

It has meant a totally re-envisioning for me in the past. And there are a couple trunked manuscripts I'd love to revive with a new main character and voice and rewrite. And maybe someday I will. But I don't always hve to do a complete rewrite especially now that I spend more time prewriting and really figuring out the vision for a story before i start writing! And like you, I do some rewriting of the previous chapter, but I've stopped doing as much in favor of finishing because sometimes the chapters really do get cut or combined or completely rewritten anyway. And I'm less likely to cut or be willing to change something I've put a lot work into. But that's a fault of mine.

Em-Musing said...

Ha,ha, ha! LOVE your "rodeo girl" analogy...and your sharing your newbie-ness. Great post!

Anne Gallagher said...

Laura -- Which is what's so nice about Masquerade. It's already written, so I just have to go in and really REALLY revise and add and cut. And also because I'm not afraid of letting go of the crap, I can probably get this ms. down to a reasonable length.

Em -- God, I hate to admit what a newbie I was. And maybe still am in some respects. Yee-Hah!

Linda G. said...

Oh, I love "re-VISIONING"! What a great way to look at it.

Actually, I love revisions in general. Tweaking, fiddling, playing with word choices...that's the fun part of writing.

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- Oh hey, have I got a manuscript for you! Anytime you want to take a stab at it.

Lydia K said...

I've had three of four Re-visionings of my last WIP. I rewrote it so many times my head was spinning!

Katie Mills said...

I think revision has to do with seeing your book from mulitiple angles, which is hard to do when you're too close to it. I edit first by mixing up the pages and editing each page for overused words, errors, pacing, etc...
Then I really need beta readers in order to take a step back and see it through new eyes. I don't know how to destroy a book and bring it back together which is why I try and patch it up as I go and I also follow an outline to make sure the plot stays on key.

Justine Dell said...

On word: nightmare.

Total truth. ;-)

~JD

Anne Gallagher said...

Lydia -- But now it's better for it isn't it?

Katie -- Multiple angles, I like that. I don't mix up my pages but work backwards. From the ending. That usually does it for me. I had an outline this time and I'm impressed I did stick with it. And I had beta's who read it before I get out to query, so another win for me.

Justine -- We'll find out how much of a nightmare Masquerade will be soon enough.

Bossy Betty said...

I love looking at revision as Re-Visioning! So often we think if it as editing, but it really should be looking at it from a new perspective.

Amie B said...

oh man. i can so totally relate to this! my first book had much of that newbie-ness to it, too....but for different reasons. i've learned SO MUCH since then and look forward to the time i can really make that story shine...because beneath the newbie stuff, it really is a great story.

Anne Gallagher said...

Betty -- It's all in the perspective I think. And as more time goes by, it becomes different when next we see it again.

Amie -- That's the thing, if you know you have a great story underneath the crap, it makes it worthwhile to tear it apart.

Hannah Kincade said...

Reading old work is definitely painful. I know, I've tortured myself and read through a ton of it. Horrible but full of potential. The ideas are there, the stories compelling but the writing...er, full of flaws. Tis the journey.

Good luck!

Tracy said...

Oh my gosh, I know what you mean. I remember when I thought "editing" meant going through and making sure there were no obvious spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. *sigh* They weren't kidding when they said it takes years to learn your craft.

Thanks for the award! I kid you not, I think I've won that stylish blogger award about a dozen times by now. lol

Austin James said...

I always think when you write your first draft, everything is coming out of your soul so fast, your just want to make sure you get it into the cohesive story you imagine it...

The revision though, is where you really breathe life into it. It's where a book becomes bad, good, or great...

Anne Gallagher said...

Hannah -- So right, tis the journey.

Tracy -- Years and years and years. Sorry about the award. I should have checked first. Take the other one if you don't it that one already.

Austin -- Thanks for joining up. Yeah, first drafts are always written from the soul's perspective, how right you are! Let's hope I can breathe enough into it to get it to great.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Revising is a a bipolar experience. It's definitely an over-the-top feeling when you know you've come up with changes that make your work better. The in-the-commode part of it for me is, I have trouble knowing when to STOP. I keep editing and revising over and over and over again. ARRRRRGH!

Ann Best said...

Blogger just lost me!! I'm so ticked. I just wrote a great comment on your great post!

I'll cut and copy this before I try sending again. ARRRGH as Susan says (above).

I read that Hemingway did this. Read everything he'd written previously before writing his day day's worth. I definitely say this is the way to do it.

BTW, you've really grown as a writer. I can tell. I've read excerpts of your work and you write very, very well. I also bought Genre Wars ($3, good cause) and saw your name. Yay. When I read High Tide, I'll post about it, and the story collection. I love short stories. My son once told me I write better shorts than long. But I finally did write a good book. So I can leave this life satisfied (though I'm not expecting to do this any time soon). Thanks for your congratulations and encouragement. I'm looking forward to your reading it.

Ann Best said...

p.s. I commented on the lost post about your RE-vision, too. That's the way it works. You've proven it really does. RE-vision. Then RE-writing; RE-editing. It's a long process when it's a book. But as I write my second memoir, I think I'll think short stories--well, scenes is the way to think, like the movies. I finally did this with In the Mirror. It works!

Hooray for you, Anne!!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

out of all your books you talk about, this is the one that i have the best feeling about for you. I don't know why, i just do. I'm glad to see you taking it out for a rewrite.
Also, i too, revise the stuff i wrote the day before, before i start writing for the current day. It lends to such a clean first draft

Heather said...

For me revision is a chance to chip away the layers and reveal the beauty of the diamond that lies beneath. It's my favorite part of the writing process!

Bish Denham said...

Oh I like your idea of re-visioning! Opens things up, helps me look at my work from a better prespective. More hopeful rather than one of dread.

Anne Gallagher said...

Susan -- I edit, revise, edit and revise again. If it's not what I want, I put it away for a week and then take another look. If you keep revising, you'll never get anything else written.

Ann -- I hate Blogger lately. I love Hemingway always. I'd love to really get into writing shorts, but I want to write all the books first. (5) Maybe if I get caught up over the summer, I'll dabble a little bit. Thanks for supporting the Genre Wars anthology, it IS a good cause. Oh and another memoir for you! I can't wait!

Sarah -- I know you've always loved Masquerade. Hopefully by May I'll have it cleaned up and let you beta for me. And there's nothing like looking at a nice clean (well semi-clean) ms. the next day.

Heather -- Oh what a lovely way to look at it. Diamonds are a girl's best friend!

Bish -- Dread? If I showed you a copy of Masquerade right now, you'd face palm. But I know what I need to do with it, so hopefully I can accomplish it.

Damyanti said...

I agree with all you have to say. If you recall, you had given me your opinion on re-visioning quite some time ago, on this post on my blog :
http://amloki.blogspot.com/2010/08/writing-about-re-visioning-writing.html

You and your posts continue to inspire me. My hope is to finish my book this year, and posts like this help!

Anne Spollen said...

Sometimes revision means going out to the recycling pile because something has to happen to all that paper. That was in the old days though. Now I just press delete, then when the Are You Sure? pops up, I click Yes.

Other times it means working really hard and having to redo a lot of stuff I once loved, then deleting more stuff I also loved.

Love your Re - Vision angle.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Hi Anne,
Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your sweet comment. I will try not to make you cry that much--will bring you some good laughs instead... :-))

Your post is encouraging, Anne. Writing is such a challenge. There is so much to learn from you, and to be inspired by your experience.

You are a gem!

Doris

Elliot Grace said...

...just mention of the word gives me gas. It took a half dozen revisions for my editor to give me the green light. I was considering therapy at that point:)

EL

Anita said...

Excellent way of summing up what so many of us feel!

Anne Gallagher said...

Damyanti -- Well, thank you for your kind words. I'm glad I can help.

Anne -- A really good piece of advice -- never truly delete anything. Always put it in a scrap file. You never know when you might need something, a line, a word, a description. I have scads of files and folders just for the scrap alone. And they have come in handy more than once.

Doris -- Oh thanks so much. You are the inspiring one. I love your posts about your people. They're just so lovely.

El -- LOL. And I know how you feel. I have two bottles of Pepto in the fridge for just such occasions.

Anita -- Thanks. Thanks for stopping by!

jbchicoine said...

Anne, I revise as I go, just the way you describe your process! Sometimes I'd like to loosen up a bit, and just write, write, write, and come back to it when I'm all done with the first draft, but I can't seem to make myself do that.

I also have dug out an older novel, with all the mistakes you mention (premature querying included, though I haven't put it through the beta-readers). I figure I must be growing as a writer because I can at least detect the problems now.

So, when you are ready to send THE LADY'S MASQUERADE to betas, I hope you-know-who is on the list! :)

Elle Strauss said...

Isn't it a great feeling to read through an old ms and realize how much you've learned and grown as a writer? Have fun with your re-write!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

You know how much I enjoyed that book! I really did enjoy it, even you think it's terrible now. It's amazing how much we grow as writers when we keep writing and reading and revising and editing and all that stuff. It scares me to think of what I'll think of my work 10 years from now. I will see so many flaws. However, it's important to love and be proud of where we are. You have always seemed to do that, and that's why you keep advancing. It's something I've tried to do, as well - not getting discouraged because I know I can be so much better than I am. One step at a time. :)

Carolyn Abiad said...

I recently took out my first draft disasterpiece for a look. It's good to remind ourselves that we've actually grown as a writer once in a while. However, it makes me wonder what I don't know right now... My re-visioning usually comes after some research.

Christine said...

Anne, this is where the chaff is separated from the wheat in the writing world. Real writing growth occurs during revision. Deep revision. I have been employing your idea to revise the previous day's work before starting on new words. It does help. I print out the pages, then read through and make notes. Then go into the computer and fix the light, easy to fix stuff. I don't worry too much about the big story issues and make notes.

Good luck with your new vision!!

:-)

A.M. Swan said...

Late to comment - but - I hear you - I too am in the midst of deeply revisioning DISTILLATION - and I have discovered so many elements that could have been more strongly tied together - so much more oomph could have been added and sooooo that is what I am doing.And it is honest feedback that has made that possible - from agents mostly. My writing group is fab. but we only do a chapter a month - so it is hard to wait three years before sending out queries. And the best feedback comes from a full read straight through. I think full on beta readers are truly important and I need to find some outside my daily world.

Anne Gallagher said...

Bridget -- I've revised both ways and I infinitely prefer the day to day method. It just helps to get rid of the small stuff quickly, like you said. Makes it easier to read. And I know where to find you.

Elle -- If I knew then what I know now? Wouldn't we all like that? Thanks for stopping by.

Glamaliscious -- Aww you're too sweet. I can't believe I put you through such torture reading that horror. You're such a trooper and a good friend. I think 10 years from now, we'll both have moved on exponentially.

Carolyn -- Love that -- disasterpiece. I know, what don't I know right now, scares the daylights out of me.

Christine -- It's so much easier to read a clean manuscript, than to have to stop every 5 seconds and say, oh wait, let me change that. You already have and then can move on to the rest of the story. I agree, big stuff comes later.

Ariel -- Yeah, you're right. The best feedback does come from a full read through. I don't let any one see chapters. Ever. I always wait until I'm finished. And good beta's are hard to find.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Anne, it was NOT a horror, I promise!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I'm re-visioning an old story right now. Painful. Embarrassing. But on the bright side, I've improved a LOT. Hooray!!