Revisions are necessary. Okay, there may be the
extraterrestrial out there who writes the perfect first draft, but for the rest
of us mortals revisions are a way of life. My process involves a lot of whining,
and friends, and whimpering. I do have a system of sorts. When I type that last
line of my manuscript, I know I’m going to be living with it for weeks, if not
months, to come.
Whining phase. I don’t
what to do this. Read as if I were two and didn’t want to take a nap.
I take a sort of a big, bigger, biggest and OMG approach.
Oh, and I do it in reverse just to make things more confusing.
The OMG first. These are the things that if they don’t hold
together, the book is headed for the recycle bin. These are what I call the
stupid’s. The clues, threads and characters I let drop. With mysteries, I have
to be sure I played fair with my readers. Do all the clues fall into place? Are
they clear enough, but not too obvious (delicate balance here), and are the red
herrings scattered around enough to mislead?
Next comes the biggest stuff. Characters. Not the main ones
so much as the secondary’s and walk-on’s. For first names, I have an inclination
to latch on to a letter and have all my character’s names begin with that letter.
Those pesky little devils all cry out to have their names, start with “M” or
“D”. Those seem to be my favorites. As I’m checking on their names, I make sure
they’re consistent throughout the scene. Since I have four, four-footed beasts
that routinely want something, I have a tendency to be distracted. And right
now they’re not the only ones pulling at me for something. But, as they say,
that’s another blog. With all the interruptions, things tend to wander, my
brain, the characters, what happens next…you get the idea.
The bigger stuff. Here we are back to the bookmarks. My
reasoning is, if it was important enough to bookmark, I probably should have a
second look at it. In this pass, I find all sorts of things that have
completely slipped through the cracks. When they’re fixed—and this can take
some time because I may have to go back to the OMG phase and re-think some of
those to be sure they still hold together.
Things are counting down and I’m at the big phase. Now you
think what could possibly be left? Well, it isn’t anything small. It’s the
words. Yes, indeed, those troublesome communication thingies. This is where I
actually wear off the printed on characters from the “control” key and the “F”
key. We all have favorite words. Mine are: really, suddenly, that, and very.
It’s really very helpful to identify your
over-used words. As I go through I remind myself that can almost always be deleted. The rest of my over-used words
may take a little more work.
With all that work behind me, I’m at the my friends stage. I have one read a
section, I make changes, then I have another read the changes. My last reader
is a mystery suspense writer too. She’s the one (and she knows who she is) who
finds all the really-X-wouldn’t-do-that kind of things.
With all these steps behind me, am I ready to send it off?
Nope. Now I have to deal with the mental baggage, but again, that’s another