Tag Archives: revision

A peek into the Kwizera revision

I normally write on the computer and do most of my revisions on the computer.  But every so often in the process I decide I need a hard copy to read and write on.  During our trip to Austin last month, you may remember, Dear Reader, I had some thoughts for further changes.  I made those changes in the computer and then printed out a hard copy and read it through.  Then something else took my attention – short stories, more on that later – and I took a three-week break from Kwizera.  Last week I read through it again and wrote down more details in certain places, and moved some things around.

Here is what some of the pages look like now:

On the page on the left I decided that a certain plot event happens too soon and that we haven’t seen for ourselves certain character traits mentioned elsewhere.  So I decided to add a new scene and made notes about what should happen in that scene.  The big line shows where I decided to insert the new scene.  In the right corner I circled the number of the page where I think some details can be taken from and put in this new scene.

Here is a close-up of the two pages from the right of the image above:

On the left are my attempts to make the words flow better and for the dialogue to sound less stilted (a criticism I received from an awesome editor at a major publishing house last fall).  I normally am very good at dialogue (unlike description), but the stilting results from me trying to make the dialogue sound like I remember my African colleagues speaking.  However, these characters are rarely speaking English.

On the right is a page of mostly backstory.  If you are a writer, you understand why that page is so marked up.  Backstory is the bane of the novelist.  It’s necessary, but it tends to bog down the narrative, especially if it happens too soon in the story.  So here you can see that big chunks are being taken out (those curlicue marks).  I have found better ways to convey the information I’m taking out – like in action and dialogue.

All that remains now is for me to convert all the handwritten notes likes these onto the computer – a rather slow and tedious process, unfortunately.  That is taking me longer than I thought it would, partially because I’m still working on short stories (but also the tedium is a reason I’m still working on short stories).

Once those notes are converted, I will have a brand spanking new draft of Kwizera to pass around to my beta readers.  Phew!

So there is a peek into my process.  What do you do that’s similar or different?  If you aren’t a writer, did you learn something about me or writing that you’d like to share?  To the comments with you!


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The Butterfly Effect

You know how they say that if a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world the effect is felt in a completely separate part of the world?  Of course you do, because the butterfly effect has been mentioned in many books and movies in the past ten years, especially anything to do with time travel.

Well, I was recently reminded of the butterfly effect while revising the Sophie manuscript the other day.  A seemingly small change in chapter 6, for instance, can have repercussions throughout the manuscript, or just in chapter 33.  Even removing one tiny word can change everything.  Or nothing.

This is when I decided that writing is kind of like juggling.  So many characters, scenes, conversations, plot lines are in the air at any one time and have to be handled with care, creativity and just plain organization.  So removing one element changes the balance.  We wouldn’t want any of those characters to fall on the floor.

For example, I decided last week to remove a character from the story line.  So not only do I have to delete any mention of poor Gabriel , but any scene that involved him must be completely rewritten.  And the absence of Gabriel changes the plot and the structure of the book.

Confused yet?

Exactly.  That’s how I have felt so many times while revising this manuscript.  There have just been too many balls in the air.  And I can’t let poor Gabriel fall on the floor.  Even if he is no longer a part of Sophie’s story.

I will miss him.  I loved his intensity and his potential for romantic drama.  I would absolutely have dated him in my teens and/or early twenties.

Deleting Gabriel was just the beginning of a breakthrough.  So now the revision is on the right track (sorry for the mixed metaphors) and I can get on with the actual cutting, rewriting and refining that make a draft into a potentially saleable manuscript.

Aren’t butterflies beautiful?


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