Midwest Musings: Good News, Bad News
I’ll be signing both my books this Wednesday, July 24 at Coldwater Creek in Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines, Iowa. Stop by just to say hi. The store will offer a special discount that day.
The good news is: I finished the current revision of my manuscript-in-progress. Yeah! Lest I dismiss this achievement too fast, let’s recall how long I’ve been mentioning this process. I started over three times before hitting on the plot changes that needed to occur to make this story work. As I went, I not only deleted the old story and incorporated the new plotline, I also removed excess tags, cut extraneous language, and wherever possible, glitzed up verbs.
I started with something like 86,000 words. I’m now 10,000 words shorter. The cuts came mainly from transitioning from four points of view to two. Had to lose those scenes where neither the hero or heroine were present and reintroduce the information found in the cut scenes through other devices, like having one of the cut POV characters tell either the hero or heroine what transpired offscreen or skipping it, if it wasn’t truly necessary.
The revised version is currently riddled with comments I inserted as I went, changes or questions to be addressed now that I’m finished. I handled some of the easy ones as I went, but others, which would have slowed my progress or I had no idea how to fix, remain.
Besides the revision itself, I also worked on a companion piece as I went, a scene analysis. I’ve developed my own template for this over the years, although it’s certainly nothing terribly different from other authors’ techniques. I set up a table, usually with five or more columns and 20 or more rows. Each scene gets a separate row. I list the chapter and scene information, page numbers, POV character, day on my timeline, and major purpose/action of the scene. Sometimes I add location and follow-up action, if any, required. I didn’t this time. [Note: one of these days, when I’m using Scrivener, its functionality will handle inputting this information as I write each scene.] I hold off creating these until I’ve been through the revision process at least twice, because I want the page numbers to correspond fairly closely with the finished or near-finished versions.
Some authors may remember everything about their characters’ actions and goals and various plot points, but given the number of changes in this version of the manuscript, I need this guide to refer to now as I go back through with more spot revisions.
And that comment leads me to the “bad” news: there’s still more revising to do. I’ve created a new framework that appears to hold the new plot together. Now, I need to assure that’s the case. This will be at least a two-phase process. First, while what I’ve been writing is still fresh in my mind, I’m doing these spot checks. Several questions have occurred to me as I made my way through to the end. These will now become the basis of my checklist. I’ll also read through the “action” column of my scene analysis and refer to the comments made on the manuscript and add those concerns to my list.
Once that phase has been completed, the plan is to take a little time off from this project, work on something else for at least a week. Then I’ll do another read through of the manuscript in its entirety, like I’m a reader, and identify areas that do or don’t flow.
I’ll discuss the phase after that in a future post, the use of beta readers.
So the “bad” news isn’t so bad, after all. It means I’ve made it this far in the writing process, I know I don’t have a finished product yet, and I have a plan for reaching that goal. That’s not bad at all.
Coming soon: Driven to Matrimony, my second book with The Wild Rose Press.
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