Monday is my day for writing about the actual process of writing and revising. And today I’m going to use it to vent about my revision process, because I’m in the stage of rewriting where you just look at your notes with the same numb horror that grips you when you see a particularly nasty car accident, except that you also occasionally bang your head on your desk and moan. (Fellow writers, please tell me you have these kinds of days, too…? Otherwise I have to question my sanity, and I don’t really want to.)
My notes, at least, are very organized. I read through my NaNo draft a couple weeks ago and made a detailed page-by-page rundown of any problems I found – from awkward dialogue to gaping plot holes – and finished up with a set of observations about overall issues with the book as a whole. Then I went through the notes with four colors of highlighter – (1) needs research, (2) needs additional material, (3) dropped thread / follow up, and (4) needs clarity / flesh out. Any problems not in those categories are pretty much too small for me to care about at this point. My philosophy is: Fix the big stuff first. Usually you’ll fix a lot of smaller stuff without meaning to in the process.
So, in a way, I know what to do next – my research, cut and combine some characters, re-outline with my dropped plot points and new character set in mind, and do some writing exercises to acquaint myself better with some of the characters and their backgrounds.
What makes it overwhelming is the scope of the book. With so many characters and such a vast amount of information I need to convey to the reader within the first 1/4 of the book, the necessity of pinning the events down while keeping the feel of the plot fluid for the reader, and a hella lot of complications, it’s a lot for one brain to keep track of. It doesn’t help that my last book was a very focused first person POV, and now my writer muscles have to readjust to the different gravity of working in third person omniscient narration.
Woe is me. But these are the times when a writer must buckle down and start the daunting task in spite of being overwhelmed by it. If I need to, I will break out the colored pencils and DRAW the threads of the plotline as they move around each other and then converge and resolve. Sometimes a brain does not want to think in words anymore, even when it is a writing brain.
Right now, anything that will get my head around this plot is my friend.
I highly recommend Johanna’s Big Thoughts for expert advice on revision. Here is my favorite one:
but all the revision posts are stellar. In fact, all of her posts are stellar, but I particularly adore the revision ones. 🙂
You’ve got a bear of a story to wrestle, but you do NOT have fear of making changes! You’re a pro: you don’t fall so in love with your characters, plot lines or beautiful words that you can’t stand to cut anything.
Go get ’em, Tiger!
Ooh, shiny! I like the blog link. 🙂
Thanks, as always, for the encouragement!
Ugh. I am having the same problems right now, as I am also working on a trilogy. It’s just so complicated having to know how to work in something from two books away to the first quarter of your book.
In my book, which is first person pov, there is all this backstory that happened right before my fourteen year old character was born. This stuff is hugely important, but it (1) only comes up indirectly in this book (2) doesn’t need to be an info dump when it does come up. I have an outline of what happened, but have actually been writing mini-chapters from different characters POV and referencing them more than the outline. That’s a new approach for me and not sure what the end result will be, but it’s working pretty well right now.
I think writing the background is really helpful, even if it’s not going to be used in the actual text. Usually, if I TELL myself I’m NOT going to use it, it frees me up so much that I end up with some really good material – some of which I do get to use when all is said and done. Even if I don’t, it makes it so much easier when characters refer to it in passing (in dialogue or in narration) that it’s well worth the time and effort.
Can’t wait till our lunch on Thursday – it sounds like we’ll have plenty to talk about!! 🙂