But where being a planner really comes into its own for me is when it comes to tackling revisions.
How the process normally goes for me is:
- Revisions letter from editor arrives
- A few moments of ‘OMG, I am so crap and she hates my book’ authorial panic
- Eat chocolate to calm self down
- Read letter properly (with highlighter pen to pick out the important points)
- Email ed to agree some points, argue case on others, and suggest compromise on others
- Do something else to keep myself busy while I wait to hear back (preferably not eating chocolate, or the scales will have something to say about it)
- Ed’s verdict arrives, agreeing/arguing/compromising
… and then I can get cracking on the actual revisions process.
From the first draft, I keep an outline of my book in a simple table format (and update it as I go, because although I’m a planner I’m open to change if my characters tell me something more interesting halfway through). Column one gives the chapter number and where it is in the timespan of the book (eg day 1, day 15, ‘several weeks later’); column two gives a very brief outline of what happens (i.e. plot points).
For revisions, I add a third column to the table, detailing what needs to be cut, what needs to be added, and sometimes what I’m going to move and where.
And then, instead of seeing a four-page letter from my ed and wondering where to start, I have a plan to work to. It’s been broken down into chunks, so it’s manageable. I can tick off the changes as I go and scribble all over my plan as I change things.
Scribble? Yes. At the moment, I do my revisions longhand – which has the added bonuses of stopping me having long email conversations with writer friends and keeping me off the internet :o) I type them up using ‘track changes’, and then print out any new scenes and revise them longhand, too.
Points to think about while I’m revising:
- Are the characters consistent? Can the reader identify with them/fall for them/understand their motivations?
- Enough emotional turning points and obstacles?
- Scenes in the right order? Would it be stronger if I moved them round? Or if I switched viewpoint?
- Who cares? (Have I gone off on a tangent/let my research show too much? – this one is my particular bad habit!)
And then, when I’m finished, that third column in my table can be cut and pasted as a note to my editor, explaining exactly what I’ve done and where.
How do you tackle revisions?
Kate’s new Modern Romance, A Moment on the Lips, is out in shops right now in the UK (next month in the US), and she’s thrilled that her new, has Vesuvius on the front cover! You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)