Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

I have been crazy busy lately. With PitchWars now open to submissions, (Until Wednesday Aug.29th) I have submitted, and that is now off my plate of things to do/worry about. Not that I was up at night worrying or anything, but it was on my long list of stuff to get done.

I haven’t had much time to write lately, not that I’m a fast writer, I’m hoping to find some time to work on a project that has been patiently waiting while I prepped for PitchWars and through the re-write.

I want to talk a bit about re-writing and how it’s different from revisions and editing.

Editing is the process of correcting grammar, sentence structure, tone/voicing, errors and the little mistakes that hide within the words.

Revising is the process of altering sentences, paragraphs and chapters even to correct story errors, plot holes, character flaws or even add to the story by writing in better dialogue, scenes or descriptions. I’ll often be on a roll with writing and not want to stop and describe something like the desk or the room, and I’ll put [describe desk] or [describe room] so that I can go back and add the descriptions when I’m revising. Sometimes if I know something isn’t working and I want to come back to it I’ll mark it with XXX or *** that way I see and remind myself I wanted to look closer at that text.

Are Editing and Revising different? Yes, can they be done at the same time? Of course. I do both together all the time. I’ll often go through a document with a secondary grammar/spell check program such as Grammarly, and then I’ll use the search and replace feature of my word program to highlight issues. I’ll highlight Filter words, LY (for adverbs, there is no way to highlight the whole word, so ly works just fine.) I’ll highlight ING, and words I use far too often such as but, or perhaps. With them highlighted I can address them as I revise.

A Re-Write of a book is different from Editing and Revising but encompasses both. Re-writing can be done however an author wants. They can read a paragraph and wing it. I couldn’t do that myself, I like what I wrote the first time and don’t want to confuse myself. I like to do a line by line re-write. That can be one sentence at a time, one paragraph, block of dialogue, or even a chapter.

What I do.

I will have two documents. (original is saved as a 1st draft.) The first is a copy of the original that needs to be re-written. The second is a blank document formatted correctly. I will copy a segment from the original(taking note of word count if I’m striving for lower numbers and change that segment on the copy to say, purple.) Then I’ll paste it into the new document as plain text, so it’s black.

Then I will read each line carefully, in an attempt to get the most from a sentence. Then once I’ve removed crap sentences, written cleaner sentences and checked for repetition, I will highlight the new segment(take note of new word count.) and I’ll change it to say light grey. Then I’ll repeat by copying the next bit(change it to purple on the copy) then paste as plain text to the new document.

What’s the point of changing the color you ask? Good question. It keeps my place in my original document, and I can clearly see what I’ve done. Same on the new document. If I have to leave halfway through a paragraph, I want to come back and know if it’s done or not. Why in different colors? I personally like the documents to look different even though one is a work in progress and obviously different. It just makes me feel better to see the difference.

What’s the point of noting the word count? Whether I’m looking to beef up my word count or bring it down, keeping track is fun and useful. With this one, I’m striving to bring it down. So with each segment, if I can have it lower than the original, I’m winning. If it’s longer, I can take a closer look. They aren’t always lower, but I strive to bring the count down with each segment. I also have a handy dandy spreadsheet where I track chapter by chapter. Once I’m done re-writing a chapter, I will track the original chapter’s word count against the new re-write. I also have it configured to tell me the total words removed ‘thus far’ and a countdown to my goal word count. This helps me stay on task with a clear goal in mind.

My last post was about some messy sentences that needed to be fixed with some examples. Popping Inflated Sentences, I’ll revisit this idea once I have some more examples to share. For now, it’s back to the re-write.

My advice about re-writing
Sit on the work for at least 3 weeks before attempting a re-write. The longer, the better. 1-3 months or longer even. This will let you reset your brain, so when you go back, you have fresh eyes. I know some will say “Nah, I can do it right away.” You probably can’t. Trust me, this advice exists for a reason. At least write something new or read a book before tackling a re-write. 

-Sheryl

 

A Lot To Think About

A Lot To Think About

Finally, I have finished the latest read through of Prophecy(Working title). Now that the story is fresh in my mind, I’m going back to add the little details I know I left out. Armed with notes from myself and from some revisers I’m ready to beef up the story.  What a fun thing to be able to do. I spent countless hours slimming up BiaAtlas because that story is a long one, that it’s a totally different experience to have room to embellish.

I re-highlighted my filter words as I explained in Well colour me silly, I was pleased to find most of them are now at an acceptable level thanks to my last revision.

I revise in a step by step process. It’s probably not efficient but it works for me. I focus on one task at a time so I don’t get horribly distracted or miss things I shouldn’t miss. There is a lot to think about when revising and editing. Sometimes it can feel or become overwhelming. Which is why I break it down.

The things I focus on individually are:

  • Filter Words
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Chapter Structure
  • The little details

I will highlight the filter words for all my read-throughs to see if I can find a better way to structure the sentence without them. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t.

Then there are the broader things I do and try to keep in mind on every read through

  • Story flow
  • Foreshadows
    • Major in story foreshadows
    • Major or minor sequel foreshadows 
    • Minor character or side story foreshadows
  • Continuity
    • Clothing
    • Appearance
    • Object continuity as mentioned in my post Where did it go?
    • Character quirks
    • Timeline 
    • Seasonally appropriate references as mentioned in Tulips in July
  • Chapter length and structure (I will get into this in more detail another time.
  • Conversation flow
    • Is it believable?
    • Does it flow?
    • Is it engaging or fluff?
    • Can it be narrative instead of dialogue?
  • Is everyone present? As in did anyone disappear? Like I talked about in Who are you again? 

There is a lot to think about and I’m sure I’ve missed a point or two. Regardless I have a process and it works for me.

My advice about all the things to think about while revising
Find a method that works for you and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to try new methods, but don’t ever let anyone dubious or otherwise tell you that your method is wrong. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Dubious

Side Notes

Side Notes

Side Notes

I’ve been gone for a bit, sorry about that. There was a reason and I do have some news I think is fantastic. I have finished my newest book and have begun the primary revision. I’m very excited about this story and can’t wait to share some information.  I’ll be composing a tentative query letter for it soon and I’ll post about that process as I’ve done a whole bunch more research on the subject.

For me, the writing process for this story became very involved. My writing time is limited (Full-time job + a family + summer = busy me) so when it came to writing I was deeply engrossed in the new story.

While I write, I often have thoughts or ideas. Whether they are yet to come or they are things to add or even things to change. I try not to go back while I’m in ‘writing’ mode and change things. For one, it throws off my groove and for two; I might change my mind before the story is done.

So, what do I do about the little or big ideas that pop into my brain? I make notes. I keep a pad of paper at my desk at all times. The more detail the better, I write down the idea and my reasoning. There is nothing worse than going back to see “Make the tablet a pen and pad of paper.”  If I forget why or the significance I could make mistakes in the change or lose the great idea because of lack of explanation or supportive information.

Here are some things I might jot down

  • A clever line or two of dialogue

  • A foreshadow for something ie. “Go back and foreshadow Belfast knowing about Lex”

  • Change in character name, behavior, quirk or appearance

  • A reminder to go back and add a quirk to a character

  • Location change idea

  • Add a character in

  • Notes to remind me to check whether or time of year ie. when is sunset in July or when do daisies bloom.

  • Add an interaction or moment in

(I just looked at my actual notes for examples)

Anything that is added after the fact, a quirk, character or moment are things that come to mind because of a new idea. I’ll be writing along and a clever scenario pops into mind. However, to make it work I’d have to change a conversation. I write a detailed note and either go back when I’m done writing or at least done writing the new scene.

Nothing in my story is set in stone until I’m certain I’m done with it. I add stuff all the time, just as long as it’s relevant to the story or scenario.

A word of caution, anything added needs to fit. Magically appearing or disappearing objects or people are frustrating, confusing and a clear indication of a novice or careless writer. If I change something, I go through with a fine-tooth comb to make sure all references or moments surrounding the change make sense.

My notes can get messy; sometimes I’ll make a spreadsheet or word document to keep track of the more important ones. Alternatively, I’ll transfer the handwritten notes to a word file so I can actually read them. (Yes, I have chicken scratch handwriting)

This pad of paper I use for side notes is often written on just after a shower or just before I fall asleep. It’s not the best time to have inspiration strike, but I’ve written many notes to the light of my wireless mouse so I don’t wake anybody by turning a light on.

My advice about Side Notes

Whether it’s a novel, poem, blog post or song, keep a pad of paper handy for when inspiration strikes. I recommend making notes or explanations on the notes so they don’t get forgotten or misunderstood later.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Tentative