Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Plotting Revisals

This dark sketchy picture represents the last complete draft of FALLING TO NORMAL, the young adult novel I'm shopping around. Or was until I got no hits from the queries sent in the last half of 2009, now I'm in revision-o-rama.

I admit, I hate it.

That is, the revision process. More specifically as it holds to this project. When I began this years (and I do mean years) ago, the first draft was done in by the seat of my pants fashion. While fun to write, it's a bitch to revise.

Why's that?
Because it's hard to connect all the scenes together and not sound like something the cat would create. (Assuming that The White One could write.) With each pass, my timeline shrinks and more events are left out. This is making it more difficult to create a strong story arc and really showcasing my protagonist's growth.

So your revision isn't going well?It's not going as planned.

The process is much slower than I anticipated, partially because I had two deadlines for workshops I needed to meet using my first pages. I made a lot of notes during my last read and I'm making sure that I'm incorporating all of them, which is taking some time.

I've also put myself in a holding pattern until the 8th of February so I can get feedback from the workshop I'm hitting on Sunday. My hope is that they'll ask me thought-provoking questions that will unlock whatever is trapped in my brain.

We'll ignore the fact that Bejeweled Blitz's new features were calling my name the past few weeks.

But you said no more Bejeweled. You liar!
I know.

So when will you finish this draft?
My goal is the end of February so I can edit my NaNoWriMo project during NaNoEdMo, but I'm not going to rush it. At this stage of the game, rushing would be a train wreck of epic proportions. If I'm not done, I'll carry over into EdMo.

So what will you do this week?
My gut is telling me that there is something inherently wrong with the manuscript as it stands, and since you can only query agents once per project, I don't want to dirty that pool. So, my free time this week will be devoted to finding that problematic element and slaying it. I'll be reviewing the plotcards and doing a lot of manual work (story maps, charts, etc.)

Oh, anything I can do?
Yes! If you've been in a similar situation, comment below. How have you fixed problem manuscripts?


  1. Would you like me to take another look at it?

  2. Hi Alicia,

    This sounds so familiar! I wrestled with this very stuff on my last novel in progress. After lots of shuffling and such, I hate to say it but I put it on hold and started something new. I just couldn't figure out how to resolve the parts of the plot that didn't link up well and couldn't leave them out either. I hope to go back to it .... someday.

    Hope you get some more uplifting advice.

  3. I'm working on draft 10 of my novel... So I wish I could help you out more.

    Doing the plot chart is an excellent start.

    My process is normally- read through the comments I got from people for the last draft-- fix them... revise again... cry... e-mail you... fix more.., declare it sucks... give up... drink coffee.. try again... don't reread until it's all done... read.. e-mail it out to other people and repeat the process in a few months.

    Each time I declare "I'm only going to do ONE more draft"

  4. WAIT! No. I also get a cheerleader to pump me up!

    So I'm going to be your cheerleader:

    EACH draft your writing keeps getting stronger and stronger.

    Your character jump off the paper and feel like people I would hang out with.

    You're a rock star and you can do this.

    Take it one page at a time.


    And even if it doesn't work out... write something else. Keep going. NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER

    YOU CAN DO IT!!!

  5. I haven't really written an fiction, but I know when I have written nonfiction things, I basically have huge disorganized notebooks with the contents color coded with highlighters. Then I try to outline based on the colors. It's kind of messy, but it seems to work for me. Then I just reread my work and try to move around notes and paragraphs.

    Again, I'd be glad to read your stuff if you ever want another pair of eyes! I read lots of YA :D

  6. Thanks for the feedback. I'll plug away at this draft and see how it goes from there. It might be a matter of having fresh eyes on it.

    (There will be more entries as the process rolls on by I think.)

  7. Congrats on keeping on!

    For me, I've been surprised how putting a novel on hold helped me. I thought my current YA novel was done - multiple drafts, multiple readers - but I had another project & a busy 4 months, so I put it aside. When I got back to it - wow, I instantly knew I had to change the main character's fundamental outlook. Kinda big, huge changes for the 1st few chapters, but easier after.

    All to say... I had no idea of the power of waiting and letting the manuscript sleep.

    But that's just me.

    Keep on keeping on!

  8. Robert - welcome aboard. I put this aside for a while too. That's how I know there's something wrong. I still can't figure out what though.

    I'm thinking of doing the shrunken manuscript method (http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/shrunken-manuscript/), but not sure if that's just overkill.


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