Monday, November 25, 2013

How To Revise A Novel In 70 Easy Steps

Now that NaNoWriMo is almost over (you should have 40,008 words by now...how far behind are you?), you'll need to start preparing for the second step of writing a novel: revision.  In October of 2012, I posted a guide of how to write a novel in 70 steps.  Now, I present my guide of how to revise a novel in 70 easy steps*.

Note: My interpretation of "easy", in this situation, is rather questionable.
  1. Write a novel.  See another post for a how-to in 70 easy steps.
  2. Celebrate said novel.
  3. Shove it in a drawer and spend a few weeks/months/millennia purposefully not thinking about said novel.
  4. Pull book from drawer.  Reread book.
  5. Decide book is awful.  Yuck, did I write this thing?  Ew.
  6. Cast it back into the fiery chasm from whence it came!
    Elrond: Destroy it!  Isildur: No.
  7. Or, you know, the drawer.
  8. A few days later, pull novel back out.  Decide that you're actually going to fix it.
  9. Procrastinate Spend valuable time gathering editing supplies.  Notebooks, cappuccino, and an arsenal of red pens.  The perfect red pens, though.  Not just any random pen you found on your desk when you came into your chemistry class.  (I refer to this as "adopting" pens.  If you've never done this, you're lying.)
  10. Sit down with novel in one hand, notebook and pen in other, cappuccino on the desk in front of you.  Prepare to read and take notes of what needs to be fixed.
  11. Suddenly, have a strange urge to vacuum your bedroom.
  12. Vacuum the bedroom, and resume editing.
  13. Read book.  Take notes on what needs to be changed/what works/where this is a big gaping plot hole so massive a black hole could get sucked inside.
  14. Finish reading.  Ask yourself, "Did I write that?"
  15. Again, this novel.  YUCK.
  16. Decide another novel idea is a better use of your time.
  17. Return to novel.  Open up its Word Document and start making big changes.
  18. Move so many scenes around that you can't remember what goes where and nothing makes sense anymore.
  19. Decide that one certain scene needs to be deleted.
  20. On second thought, it doesn't.  You worked for hours on that single scene.  It can stay.
  21. But it JUST DOESN'T WORK.  
  22. *angst*
  23. Compromise by deleting said scene from actual draft, but copying and pasting it into another document.  It's not truly gone, right?
  24. Completely rethink your entire vision for the novel.  Now even more things have to change. 
  25. *shuffling noises*  Ah, the sound of moving things around and making voice stronger and readjusting character arcs and such. 
  26. Everything is finally...maybe...where you want it on a large scale.
  27. Except that one scene.  Bust it apart and scatter the pieces because they're your words to delete so you can be violent about it if you want to.
  28. Now everything is where you want it.  From a distance.  The closer you look, the uglier it gets.
  29. LINE EDIT TIME!
  30. Print entire manuscript, double-spaced.  Marvel at the sheer amount of paper and printer ink it takes.  Trees?  Who needs those?
  31. Prepare for battle. 
  32. Go an an adverb-crossing-out spree.  Delete ALL the adverbs!
  33. Meticulously comb through every line for awkward phrases, words you don't like, and other weird typos.  
  34. Make so many red marks that you simultaneously feel like you're making progress and also that your writing is terrible.  (Or green marks or whatever color your want.  I edit things in green.)
  35. Realize that you can actually smell the ink from your pen.  Is that good or bad?
  36. Attack novel with pen until it looks like a warzone.  
  37. So many words...this is harder than it looks.  And it looks hard.
  38. Wonder if you've started something you shouldn't have started.
  39. Decide that you'll never get anywhere with this.  Toss it aside. 
  40. Eventually, return to line edits.  Continue wreaking havoc and destruction with your red pen.
  41. Look at so many words that you start to go cross-eyed. 
  42. Find the perfect reaction GIF for a situation in your book.  Then remember that you can't put GIFs in novels. 
  43. Realize that you're almost done.  
  44. Spend half an hour obsessing over one sentence.  
     
  45. Finally, finish line edits.  
  46. Then realize that you are now faced with the Herculean task of typing all of your edits back into your novel's Word document.
  47. Cry.
  48. Embark on this perilous and maddening journey.
  49. Go on YouTube to find the perfect epic music to play while you edit your novel.  Waste twenty minutes deciding which music to use.  I recommend this ten-hour loop of 'I'll Make A Man Out Of You', this ten-hour loop of the Game of Thrones theme, Kyle Landry's Pokémon or Lord of the Rings piano medleys, or Imagine Dragons' 'Nothing Left To Say / Rocks' (because when you're in the middle of a big pile of editing, you might feel like this).
  50. Begin typing everything into your computer.  Can you feel the eye strain yet?
  51. Wish that you could jump ahead in your own time stream to a point where you have finished doing this.
  52. Begin building a time machine.
  53. Realize that all of the necessary physics equations necessary to build a time machine, and a time machine that lets you jump ahead in your own time stream at that, are even more maddening than your editing.
  54. Return to editing.
  55. Become a little desperate to be done. 
  56. Give yourself a pep talk and begin typing your edits into the computer twice the speed as before.
  57. Finish typing everything into the computer.  Spend five minutes in denial; after all this time, how could you actually be done?
  58. Confirm that yes, actually, you are done. 
  59. Cry.
  60. Send shifty-eyed glances toward your next novel.
  61. Celebrate. 
  62. No, wait.  There's still one other thing that needs to be changed.  Now you're done.
  63. Do this, whatever this is: 
  64. Save the file of your finished and revised novel in about eight different places so it's harder to destroy, like Voldemort putting pieces of his soul into random objects.
  65. Contact the Guinness Book of World Records and tell them about the impossible feat you have just accomplished.
  66. Admire how shiny and lovely your novel is, now that it's all revised.
  67. Try to forget about the fact that if you want to be published, you'll probably have to endure another round of revision with your literary agent.
  68. Realize that you have revised an entire novel.  Therefore, you are invincible. 
  69. ?
  70. Become a bestselling author and make as much money as J. K. Rowling.

What are you favorite/least favorite steps of revision?  Are there any steps you would add?  While you're here, how is NaNoWriMo going, for those who are participating?

*If you're looking for an actual how-to on novel revision, I have a serious one as well.  The same goes for finishing a novel.
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1 comment:

  1. I remember reading your How to Write a Novel and hoping for a revision one :D Perfect timing too, I just finished my NaNo novel.
    And it needs some MAJOR rewrites.

    ReplyDelete

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