Revisionland

I’m deep in the land of revision with my new novel Dragonfire. Dragonfire is the third novel I’ve written, so I knew I’d be here after I finished that rough draft. Revisionland is sort of like Candyland with no candy and a lot more work and caffeine. But it’s where most novels go to become good novels. Revisionland is where the magic happens.

So what happens in revisionland? Well, it’s going to be different for everyone. Sure that’s a cop-out answer but it’s true for almost everything relating to writing. Maybe it’s a bit like parenting, there are a million books with advice out there, but for the most part it’s finding out what works for you since children are individuals and so are parents. Similarly, every novel is individual (even if the ideas aren’t original) and so is every writer. Okay so much for the wishy-washy stuff.

What does revisionland look like for me? Well, it two major cities, beta-reader-ville and read-through-berg, and a bunch of connecting roads.

There's still a lot of work left after roughing things in.
There’s still a lot of work left after roughing things in.

Beta-reader-ville is hugely important. Without somebody else taking a look at your work you end up being like a team that you’ve only watched scrimmage against itself. Maybe it’s a good team, but maybe the offense and defense are equally bad so the scrimmages don’t reveal the weaknesses. When the team is subjected to another team, then the weaknesses come to the forefront. My rough drafts are never without weaknesses so I need these kind and wonderful people to read it over and reveal the problems.

Read-through-berg is also important. While beta readers are important, my own opinion is ultimately the judge of my novel. Read-through-berg is where the government is. After every round of revisions I visit it to read through my latest manuscript and decide what stays, what goes, and what needs to be changed. It’s also where I go to pull the weeds of grammar errors and typos.

Sometimes I employ the use of robot minions to help me out in the form of a text-to-speech reader and my e-reader. I find having my computer read to me helps me find problems that just reading the text doesn’t. Somehow, I also find using an e-reader to help me read through my manuscript seems more effective. Maybe reading it without sitting in front of a computer screen makes me go slower and pay better attention.

Finally, there are the connecting roads where most of the work takes place. All those beta-reader comments need to get processed into manuscript changes on the way to Read-through-berg. Sometimes those changes are easy and straightforward like a clear freeway. Other times the changes domino, clogging up the road with lots of corrections. And then there are those times I need to put out the orange barrels and replace whole sections of–okay, maybe I’m overdoing the analogy at this point.  It’s those changes where I need to rip out multiple scenes or even whole chapters that are so daunting to me. Inside, I want to scream, “I’ve already written it! Don’t make me go back and write it all over again!” In the end, though, I slog through and end up happy I did–hopefully happy.

Those roads run both ways though and my read-throughs send changes back to the beta readers. The paths become well-traveled before I reach my final destination at the pinnacle of final draft mountain.

So that’s what revisionland looks like for me. What does your revisionland look like?

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3 Responses to Revisionland

  1. Lesley C says:

    All the best, Erik. I’m in Revisionland too at the moment though some days it seems like I’m perpetually here! Can’t wait to step into Shiny New Crappy First Draft Land.

  2. Beth Turnage says:

    Revisionland? Ack! Ack! Ack! Does that tell the story?

  3. Mirka Breen says:

    I wouldn’t get anywhere with revisions without my Beta readers, bless them times a hundred. I tend to find my first drafts “too good,” which I know they are not. Revisions consist of thinking and addressing my first readers’ feedback. Once I make the first cut, the operation in ON. Even I can see the work that’s needed.
    I wish you a greatly successful operation, and a much healthier patient.

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