Finding the Pony – The Revision Punch List

For a while now, folks have been asking me “How’s the new book going?”
 lucy yuck
Seems like it’s time for a real update.
The first draft of “Mister Mottley and the Dying Fall” was my NaNoWriMo project last year, and it was a great learning experience. I learned, for example:
  • The “fast draft” approach is antithetical to my normal creative process.
  • My right-brain and left-brain are collaborators, not enemies.
  • Trying to circumvent my “inner editor” is like trying to climb a rope one-handed.
  • Forcing myself to write faster than I can think, is the slowest way for me to produce a book.

But that’s me. I’m weird. NaNoWriMo’s great — you should try it. Really! Everybody should try it once — just not with an idea you care about a whole lot.

At the end of NaNo last year, I had a 50,000 word manuscript. I unscientifically estimate that 30,000 words of it was unreadable nonsense. After months of dithery self-loathing, I threw out most of the draft and started from scratch. I knew the core of my idea was worth pursuing, but I’d lost my way in the hyperactive weeds of mindless word-count frenzy.
After several more months of rewrites, I finally — FINALLY — shaped “Dying Fall” into a narrative that could be read straight through while sober. It’s not finished, but it does hang together in a meaningful sequence without applying copious amounts of handwavium to get from one plot point to the next.
 awesome happens
So what’s next? Now it’s time for the revision “punch list,” an idea described by Ava Jae at Writability. She suggests creating a single list of notes and color-coding them by category. Then you revise by working through each category in separate passes. My categories are slightly different from hers, but the process works the same. Separating the “cold” analysis of what the story needs from the “hot” work of composition keeps the revision from devolving into lukewarm mush.
The most valuable part of this method is the ability to work on discrete, well-defined tasks. With the children off from school this week for Thanksgiving break, I’ll need all the interruption-proofing I can get!
So I’ve got my work cut out for me —pages
But it’s satisfying and encouraging to see concrete progress, one bite at a time.
Wishing you happy creating and a very Happy Thanksgiving!
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