Revising my revisions process

Posted on July 30, 2007

Usually, once I’ve got my outline together, I start writing at the front of the book and work my way right to the end before I get any revisions going. If I jump ahead to the stuff I’m most looking forward to, I generally find I end up having to redo it because ultimately, the context isn’t what I originally thought. And if I were to stop and revise as I went, I’d pretty much spend my whole life repolishing a single Chapter One without ever hitting Chapter Two.

This weekend, though, I went back and began revisions work on Stargazer, despite the fact that I’m about 15K short of the end. I knew a couple of plot arcs had developed in new directions — that happens all the time, and in itself that didn’t worry me. But those new plot elements meant that I had to go back and ask myself about the characters’ motivations, and in a couple of cases, those motivations had changed substantially. I felt like, if I wasn’t in touch with that, any version of the ending I could write would be so flawed that I’d end up having to redo it completely.

So. Saturday morning, I picked up with Chapter One. I didn’t do a full revision, but I straightened things out, refocusing on what I now know is more important. I pretty much worked on that nonstop until Sunday night. (Well, with a few breaks for food and “Singin’ in the Rain,” because there is literally no time when it is not good to stop and watch that movie. I think watching Gene Kelly dance improves your mind, health, spirit, complexion and karma.) And I am so, so glad that I did. Although there are still a few chapters to go, I feel like the story is so much more on-track and has regained its momentum. Or maybe that’s my momentum. Either way, I’m feeling good.

14 Responses to “Revising my revisions process”

  1. kerlin

    Well, with a few breaks for food and “Singin’ in the Rain,” because there is literally no time when it is not good to stop and watch that movie. I think watching Gene Kelly dance improves your mind, health, spirit, complexion and karma.

    So, so true. I defy anyone to watch Singin’ in the Rain and not emerge grinning like an idiot.

    I love you talking about writing, because I never fail to be fascinated by how much thought you put into it. Which of course needs to be done! But for me writing is such an instinctive, unthinking action that it’s even difficult to go back and revise – I’m out of the place I was when I wrote it. Which is exactly why you’re published and I have half a dozen unfinished fanfic epics on my hard drive. ;)

    Reply
    • admin

      MO-ses! MO-ses!

      There are plenty of people who make a living at writing who do it instinctively, at least at first, although I think revisions end up demanding their tithe from everybody.

      Reply
  2. auntsuzy

    Gene Kelly

    Hi Claudia, I got your post in my GK Google alert today. I love your quote about Gene. Would you give permission for me to use it on my GK website please? It has a huge number of quotes about him from numerous sources. This is the link if you would like to take a look before saying yes or no. Thanks.

    http://www.freewebs.com/geneius

    Reply

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