Wednesday, August 18, 2010

So Here's My Process

It's been awhile since I've posted. While working on my SL Project, I've come to realize how in depth and detail oriented one has to be about everything. The main subject that has caused me to write this blog is the pressure and advice of constant revising, revising, revising.

Recently on a forum, I read how revising is so important and how self-editing is a must. I can understand how the two can be considered one in the same. For a long time I didn't realize the difference.

Let me explain how I see it, and maybe I'm wrong. First, editing is making sure all punctuation and grammar are correct, and that the time and flow of story are in the correct order so as to make sense. And of course, for me, the biggest hurdle is tense. It actually gives me a headache, so I'm not getting into that today.

Secondly, revisions are important because what makes sense to you as the writer may not be comprehensible to the reader. Choice of language and slang is an obstacle course. When a reader must re-read a sentence or paragraph due to breaks in flow, it can hurt your story, no matter how good your idea is. What one can say in a single sentence may be more influential than an entire descriptive paragraph. What I'm driving at here is revising and revising until you can finally sleep at night knowing you've done your best.

I've found that sometimes a whole chapter needs to be tossed or even move to the end of the story. And sometimes dialogue takes a turn toward "the basement" where it STINKS OF MILDEW! That brings me to the point of revising, revising, and editing.

So here's my process:

1. Write a vague outline.
2. Write the scenes that won't let me sleep.
3. Piece together scenes with the outline, adding filler and detail.
4. Rewrite the story, beginning to end in a 5 subject notebook.
5. Read the notebook from beginning to end, making notes on what needs work.
6. Revise the notebook, adding in notes or taking out discrepancies.
7. Rewrite manuscript (MS) on computer.
8. Revise/Edit on computer.
9. Print MS and revise and edit.
10. Correct computer MS.
11. Print MS and revise and edit.
12. Correct computer MS.
13. Print MS for a friend to read for clarity and understanding flow.
14. Revise based on friend suggestions. (optional)
15. If using a proofreader/editor, Print MS.
16. Revise
17. Proofreader/editor should want to double check MS
18. Revise
19. Format MS for publisher/printer
20. Bind and ship
21. Edit
22. Bind and ship
23. Edit
24. Repeat Bind and ship, Edit steps until satisfied.
25. Market like crazy.

At first, when I heard "revise, revise, revise" I thought, Goodlord, how do I know when to stop? As a Fine Art graduate I've learned that perfection is arbitrary.

Some people say, "Put six months into revising and editing before querying." Others say that they'll do it three times. I don't believe there is a set number or time frame. VG was done 6 times over a span of 8 months and BL 4 times in 4 months. That's too fast for both books by publisher standards, but I did what makes ME happy and satisfied.

So to end this, and to give you all an update; I am solely working on my SL Project. I have started others and they are all at various stages of the 25 step process I laid out for you. I have a partially written, vague outline of a story about a culture mixed with the past and future to create a world that doesn't exist. The Lyon's Key has been through all 25 steps and has currently circled around and back in step 13. My childern's book doesn't even fit into the process because it's in limbo somewhere fighting for the attention of the illustrator among video games and a career. And the sequel to VG is . . . complicated. Because of VG, I'll never write without an outline EVER again.

With all that said, I've worn myself out.