Part one was way back in February. So much has happened since then. I’m on Revision 3.0 now. I’m still refining my process. I think that will be an eternal thing.
Step 1 Make a Checklist of Things to Fix
In February, I went through and made notes about things to change, add, subtract, etc. That was nice and easy. I liked this because it functioned as a checklist, which I find immensely satisfying.
Step 2 Fix the Timeline (unfortunately, no time travel involved)
One note I made was to nail down the timeline. Well that took about a month to adjust, readjust, and readjust again. Then make sure it aligns correctly everywhere in the book.
Note to Self: Pay attention to timeline as you write the story.
Also, please remember that when I say I’m spending a month on something, this is a month of writing in the fringes. Quite often I’m only able to write 2 hours a week. Plus, Intellection is my number one strength. That means I overthink everything. I don’t know the meaning of the word fast.
Step 3 My Wac-A-Mole Method of Revision
After fixing all the notes, I again panicked. The story was still a disaster! I wasn’t sure where to start or how to proceed. I ran into the trap of read a chapter, fix things, which caused a ripple through another chapter. I’d jump to that other chapter to fix the other chapter. Then when flipping back to to where I left off, I’d see another problem and stop to fix that. So my path through the chapters looked like this…ch 1, 2, 14, 5, 18, 12…etc. The randomness drove me nuts! Hello Achiever! (Reference to Clifton Strengths. Achiever is in my top 5 strengths. That means I like making lists and checking off tasks as they are completed in a systematic orderly way. My ADHD, however, likes to sabotage this superpower of mine.)
Note to self: Keep a notebook handy at all times! Instead of jumping to fix immediately, make a note in the notebook about what needs to be fixed in each chapter. Start with a page for each chapter. Thread it like a bullet journal.
(For more information on how to thread read https://bulletjournal.com/blogs/bulletjournalist/threading.)
Step 4 Scene Evaluation
Next I went through each scene to determine: setting, conflict, POV. Then asked does it move plot forward? Is this scene critical to the story. This took another month and a half. This is also something I should have done along the way.
For each scene wrote out these items.
Date (for timeline)
Purpose of Scene
POV (if multiple POV story)
____ is preventing her from getting it
Step 5 ProWritingAid
Finally, I’m running each chapter through ProWritingAid. This drove me crazy because I hadn’t yet found my balance. It said I had too many “sticky words.” The problem was, when I removed the sticky words it also took out the personality and sounded more like an essay than a novel. It did help me see the commas I missed, spelling errors, the few bits of passive voice that crept in, word echos, strange dialogue tags, and many other random things I missed in my frantic attempt to get the story from my head to the page. Once I figure out to ignore the sticky words, it began to go much faster. I was also able to break this down into a list of chapters and check each one off as I ran it through the program and fixed it.
I’m running it scene by scene. Before I run my scene through it, I am tweaking the scene, cleaning up the description or adding it where it’s lacking. Every time I get to a new scene I always find ways to improve it and polish it.
This is the step I’m currently on at the moment. Anything from here forward might change.
Step 6 Devil’s in the Details
I will probably go through the manuscript a couple more times fixing random little things like picking up Joan’s anxiety thread. In scene one she has a panic attack. I dropped that thread. It’s not a major thread; she is not going to miraculously overcome her anxiety, but she it’s something she lives with and is continually trying to manage. I have another scene in Math class that moves the plot along, but I need to mention it one more time somewhere in the story…you know…magic number 3. Anyhow there are a few little things I need to polish up a little more.
Step 7 Professionals
My next step will be to give this to my editor, beta readers, and sensitivity readers. I was an English Teacher for 20 years. I know grammar and punctuation. I am now a Librarian. I know story structure. And yet, I still send this off to a professional, certified editor. Even with the background I have I need a professional editor because I am too close to the story to see what she does. Although I have worked with teens for decades and I’ve been a reader most of my life, I still need beta readers to give me their perspectives. I have not been black a single day of my life. Since my MC is black, I certainly need a sensitivity reader or 3 to make sure I am not perpetuating misnomers or inaccuracies.
Then I wait patiently for them to return it. Y’all patience is not in my vernacular, so I will keep myself otherwise occupied with creating the outline for book 2 of this series.
Step 8 Final Fix
Once I get the feedback from step 7. I will go though each feedback report/letter and make the changes I need to change. One important thing is to know what to change and what to ignore. After I get feedback, I might do a whole blogpost about this step.
Somewhere throughout step 5 & 6 I’m having a complete imposter syndrome crisis. I love this story with all my heart and I want to share it with the world, but I also know that I’m no Brandon Sanders, Jim Butcher, or V. E. Schwab. Is this story perfect? Absolutely not! But I have to keep reminding myself of a few things:
- I have read a LOT WORSE in my lifetime.
- There is no such thing as perfection.
- I can learn an improve with my next book.
- I will look back years from now and think, “This is terrible.” All authors do. Some go back and polish them and republish. Some withdraw the book from stores.
- If I keep working on it until it is perfect in my eyes, I will keep this from readers forever. That is selfish of me. Maybe someone out there needs to read about an impulsive girl with anxiety who sees dragons, trolls, and needs to save her friends and family from an out of control witch bent on vengeance.
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