Monday, July 19, 2010

How I Revise

I have two pages of revision notes in front of me, as well as the fantastic comments from my critique group, who just finished reading my new manuscript. I am now going through the novel chapter by chapter, changing some small things (perhaps tweaking the things on the page I have mentioned about the boy's mother) and some larger things (adding another scene with the two main characters, earlier in the story.)

So as I begin these revisions, I realize this will be an entirely new draft of my manuscript. Here's how I keep track of it. I have saved the earlier version in four different ways - on my hard drive, on an external hard drive, on a flash drive, and by emailing it to myself.

Then, I copy and paste the entire document into a new blank document and rename it. Whatever works, something like: Life on the Run, Summer 2010 (and no, that's not the name of my ms, but it's cool, huh?) Name it something so that you can definitely know which version you are working on.

At this point, some people might use Track Changes (a feature on Word.) I have never become comfortable using this, because even though all the changes sit out to the side in small print and a different color, it messes up the margins and the formatting.

I prefer to just make changes as I go, but here's another helpful thing I do. I open another blank document, and I label it "Unused scenes and paragraphs from Life on the Run." Then, if I decide to delete a larger portion of the manuscript (more than just a few words) I just cut and paste it into the new document, making a note about where they came from - like end of chapter 12, or something. Presto, those awesome words are saved, and I can continue on with my revisions, knowing I can always find them again, quite easily, if I need to.

I don't often want those words back. But I might want to use them elsewhere, or I might just want to read them again and compare. Besides, we are writers, and we do sometimes become enamoured of our own writing. See my post Killing your Darlings.

Anyway, this is how I do it.

How do you revise? Any tips or tricks you'd like to share?


middle grade ninja said...

I like to print up my manuscript, make my changes with a pen the old fashioned way, and then input the changes into the word file. That way I get two revisions for the price of one.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I revise as you do, Linda. But I make my changes in a different color so that I can be more aware of the new copy when I read through again. At a later stage of the revision process, I print out the entire story and read it from the hard copy. There is something about reading the hard copy. I catch much more, for some reason.

Joanna said...

I like this system, Linda--you never know when those little darling words you cut might come in handy! Even if only for a chuckle or to inspire you.

Glad to see you haven't given up on S yet!!

Linda Benson said...

MG and Cynthia - yes, I like to print out a hard copy and read it back that way, too. In fact I think I will try a trick for revision I heard about on twitter - changing the entire ms to a different font and printing it out.

Joanna - I am plugging away on revisions, between summer projects and other important stuff.

Thanks for dropping by to comment!

Vonna said...

Many of my first readers relayed a similar concern with my WIP. I had addressed this issue in an early draft but had cut it when I changed my WIP's POV. Luckily, I still had the old copy. With a little massaging, it worked right in and solved the problem. Hurray!

Linda Benson said...

Vonna, exactly. Sometimes when you change things, you don't realize you are perhaps opening another can of worms (or things to be addressed.) It's great to be able to go back and see what you wrote in the first place, because you might still need it! Thanks for commenting!

Amy Lukavics said...

This is so insanely organized, Linda. My method is horrible, all I do is read through and make notes in a notebook of certain changes.

This brand new manuscript idea of yours is amazing, as is the whole opening-a-new-file-copied-and-pasted. I am so going to try it when I get my next revisions!

Linda Benson said...

Amy, I think knowing you are working on a whole nother draft (is nother a word? lol) and you have the first one saved as is, gives you the freedom to experiment. Cut out things, change things, more freely without worrying about what you might lose.

I think it's cool that we all learn from each other. I pick up tips from wherever I can. Good luck with your new set of revisions!!

Monica said...

LOL, my method is similar, with one exception. When I open the new document for revisions, I do not copy and paste the whole thing. Instead, I copy just a few sentences or paragraphs as I make changes.

I've found that with a blank page in front of me, I'm more likely to revision the wording, or story, or whatever, in a more original way. If I try to make changes in the original doc, I notice I get stuck in what's already written.