Monday, January 20, 2014

Revision, Re-Vision


Revision, Re-Vision


I think revision is a very personal thing among authors.  Everyone has their own method, and I actually vary my method depending on what it is I'm revising.  One of my books was about halfway done when I decided I didn't like the direction it was going, so I scrapped the whole thing and started over.  Sometimes minor changes are all that a story needs, and I'll just make small adjustments.  I tend to suffer from what Alice Munro and Rollo May describe as "a big relief" or a "breakthrough of ideas", the "eureka!" moment that Isaac Asimov described so well in his essay.  I usually find that taking a long walk helps me get my best ideas, but I also have another tactic.  I find a movie or TV show about whatever it is I'm writing and watch it just before I go to bed; when I wake in the morning to write, I usually get that burst of inspiration that I need, fueled no doubt by my unconscious mind's interpretation of what I watched just before bed.  


That said, whether I completely start from scratch or modify what I have depends on the story I'm revising.  Some stories can be saved, some need an overhaul of Frankensteineian proportions, and some just need to be like Jesus and take a 3-day hiatus before they are resurrected in a new, more powerful way.  One story I'm working on right now has failed me in many ways, and I'm considering a complete re-do.  As many have said before, writing is easy; revision is a murder faker. 

So here are some things I look for during the revision process:

On first read, I look at Story

·         Story Arc
·         Structure
·         Plot
Conflict, Crisis, Resolution
Will the plot Entice, Engage, and eventually Satisfy readers?
·         Theme or Message

On second read, I look at Characters
           
·         Dialogue
·         Appearance
·         Action
·         Thought
·         Author's Interpretation
·         How another character sees each character


On third read, I look at Setting

·         Location
·         Landmarks
·         Metaphor
·         Weather
·         Population (number and type)
·         Time (of day and year)


Finally, I check for the following little things

·         Does the story start with tension?
·         Have I answered the "Why" questions?
·         Is this the best POV to tell the story?
·         Sentence structure variation
·         Word Choice (avoid complex words, vary words, vary conjunctions)
·         Am I clear and concise?
·         Am I using any clich├Ęs and/or idioms?
·         Am I showing rather than telling?


·         If it is a short story, are the characters' names or descriptions too similar?

Monday, January 6, 2014

And-or, Nand-nor

As a human, I often find myself going into automatic mode when writing.  And as a human, my mind chooses a handful of go-to terms that it can use without a second thought.

However, as a writer, I often find myself pulling the hair out of my head during the revision process, when I find I have used only two conjunctions throughout the paper: AND and OR.  So, I've decided to post a list of conjunctions within view at all times in my office, and I wanted to share them with you in case you have the same problem.  By no means is this an extensive list, but it's a good start (and no, they're not quite alphabetical):

Additionally
As a result
Consequently
Coincidentally
Hence
Once
Although
Nevertheless
Also
After
As if
As long as
As though
Because
Before
Even though
Even if
For instance
For example
For
Furthermore
Finally
However
If
If only
In order
Moreover
Now that
Nor
On the one hand
On the other hand
Rather
So
Since
Than
That
Therefore
Though
Thus
Then
Unless
Until
Undoubtedly
When
Where
Whereas
Whenever
While
Yet

-Giovanni