Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Joy of Round Two Revisions

Revisions. It's a dirty word, isn't it?

I am not a revise-as-you-go writer. I write the first draft close to the desired word count, set the book aside, and come back to revise it.

The first round of revisions can only be described as painful. I'm fixing major plot, character, and pacing problems. I'm straining to make sure each scene has conflicts and goals. Round one takes a long time to get through.

But round two--oh round two!--is beautiful. I'm filling in scenes with action tags, sensory details, and internal thoughts. My favorite way to do this is by reading the scene out loud in first person (I write in past tense, third person.) It helps me get in the character's head and visualize the scene.

The second round takes much less time than the first, and the process is more fun. I'm not tensing my shoulders or burning a hole into my laptop with my laser-stare, trying to figure out what on earth is wrong with the page. Instead, I'm complimenting the scene, making it better, like dusting glitter powder on a dancer before a recital.

Then round two will be finished and I will enter round three with a thud. Chocolate will be involved. And coffee. Round three can be a bear.

What aspect of revising do you like best?

Have a happy Wednesday!


  1. I'm in the first round. Rewriting scenes and adding scenes. I think I like this part the best because it still feels like writing and I know what I have to do.

  2. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I'm a revise (to death) as I write kind of writer.
    It's a sickness. LOL
    But by the end, it just needs a little tikering here and there.

  3. I'll be heading into my revisions in the next week or two. First round. This is usually the point when I wish I was crafting a new story.

    Good luck today, Jill.

  4. Wow, you have rounds? Organized lady. :-)
    I don't know which one I like best. Maybe the last, when I print up the story and fix sentences and errors.

  5. Yea... I procrastinate on revisions... So this was great timing for this post:)

  6. I may be in the minority, but I'm not so crazy about the rough draft part of writing. I thrive with revisions--polishing and making it shine.

    I write the rough draft as quickly as I can to get the word count down, and then I go back and add storyworld, emotional elements, etc.

    Plotting really helps me to stay focused on each scene to make the rough draft process less painful.

  7. Good Morning!

    Laura: That's so cool! Plus, in round one you're usually very close to the original story and that can help with momentum.

    Jennifer: Ha! You're not alone. I have friends who swear by the revise as you go method!

    Constance: I feel that way by round three. When I'm done revising, I'd gladly never look at the book again!

    Jessica: Fixing sentences and getting rid of repetitions is a big thing for me. It's not my favorite!

    Amber J: Ha! Don't we all? :)

    Lisa: I understand. Sometimes trying to figure out which way the scene is going can feel like going through a taffy puller. At least in revisions, everything is there!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Good timing! I'm on Round 3 - all good until now - the last 100 pages. They need *work.*

  9. I love your idea of reading it in 1st person! I also write in 3rd person past tense, and I've debated whether to rewrite in 1st, just to freshen it up. Reading it aloud would take away all the extra typing. :)

  10. Jill, how did you get to the point that you can write the first draft close to the word count? (great outline?) I feel like I'm trying to put an octopus into a stocking. (One story, two years of NaNo, which is, as you know, writing like crazy.) Plus, it's my first attempt at a novel (YA). Right now I am reading, editing, rewriting,and burning up my delete key, even though half the story has yet to be told. Help? Any suggestions? (I refuse to burn it, so that's out.)
    Thanks for the hope of what is to come. (I can't wait for the dusting of glitter phase.)

  11. Just coughed tea on the screen. Not a huge fan of revising. If I had to answer I'd say round four or five. Everything reads better then and I'm not tripped up by spelling or grammatical slip-ups.

    ~ Wendy

  12. I've not thought of reading the scene aloud in first person. I'm going to have to try that.

    As to the part I like the best? Usually it's the revision stage, though I do have fun during the rough draft stage slapping words onto the page.

  13. Hi Jill!

    I'm a revise-as-you-go writer. It helps me to go back and make small changes to the chapters I just wrote before I start a new one. But I still have rounds of subsequent revision, and they are more like your round three. So I enjoy them, in their own way!

  14. Sheila: Woo-hoo! The end's in sight! Good luck!

    Sarah: I know! It's easy once you get the hang of it, and it always enriches the scene because I add subtle thoughts or sensory details. Try it!

    Patti: Ha! Ha! This is too funny--octopus in a stocking! I am a major plotter. I'll e-mail you the details!

    Wendy: Sorry I made you choke. :) Ha! I know, revising is...rough.

    Erica: I love slapping the words on the page too!

    Rosslyn: Yep, I have friends who do the same thing. I'm impressed!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  15. I enjoy editing almost as much as I do writing a first draft, so I have to bind and gag my Internal Editor, send her out of my office, and close the door when I'm putting a new story on the page. I go over my day's work on hard copy each evening, and then my IE can come out and play. She's happy as can be when I enter into my rounds of revisions.

    I'm curious. Why did you say round three can be a bear?

  16. Did you hear that thud? Yep, I'm in round three. Jill, thanks for your great posts ~ Always, always helpful!

  17. Oops, I was so caught up in the round three comment that I forgot to comment on your question.

    I love when I run across a page or two that doesn't need any revising, and it's so good, that I can't believe that I was the one who wrote it.

  18. I think round 2 is my favorite as well. There is something so gratifying to making each scene bigger and better.

  19. I don't think I have a favorite. I do like the creative process of Round 1, but also like the fine detail process of Round 2. I think my favorite is when I'm checking to make sure the address on the submission envelope is correct. :)

  20. Ooooh, the glitter on a dancer before a recital--I love that image!!

    I tend to revise til I'm sick of my own writing. I just have to finally say, "That's enough!" and put an end to my madness.

  21. BTW, I use chocolate and coffee at each phase. Please tell me this is allowed.

  22. I actually love to revise and edit - other people's work! It's so much easier to see what could be made better with a little tweaking in my crit partner's manuscript. But, once I figure out what needs to be done, I enjoy it on my own stuff, too.

    Most rounds of my revisions deal with correcting errors and pacing problems. I'm huge on prewriting - outlines, scene cards, character monologues to get into their heads - so I usually have a firm idea of where the story is going, how it's getting there, and in what order. I make some really strange typos, though. I call them 'phonetic typos.' For example, I wrote a scene the other day where my character looked at a stack of 'close.' I was thinking 'clothes,' of course, but my fingers are more used to typing the word 'close.' So that's what they typed. I have typed the word conversation instead of concentration. It makes for some interesting sentences to correct in Round One. Does anyone else do that? I feel like such a weirdo... lol

  23. Keli: I love the idea of printing out your day's work and letting your IE have a party! I might try that! Round three gets tough for me because I'm ruthless about repetitions and I strive to make each sentence better. By that point, I've read the book a few times and it all gets jumbled together, like, did I already write that line in an earlier chapter? Yuck!

    Loree: Ouch! Hoping you'll get out of Rd. 3 soon! And I agree--actually loving your words is such an ego boost!

    Susan M: Yes! I'm never satisfied with the scenes until I've been through round two. Then they start to feel complete.

    Lynn: That's my favorite part too! :)

    Jen: Same here, and of course chocolate and coffee is amply applied during each round!!

    Lindsay: I love critiquing. It's so much easier than going through my own work. And yes, I type the wrong word all the time! I think my brain speeds faster than my fingers or something!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  24. I'm there with you! Well, not actually. I'm in the middle of a rough draft right now. But as far as loving that part of the editing process - yep! That's by far one of my favorites!

  25. I can't revise as I go--I'd never finish! I write the novel, then go back and revise. I'm currently on round three of what I'm working on now!

  26. The phonetic word--happens to me, too. I also "finish" typing words that are already done "the" becomes "they." My fingers just keep going because they think they know what comes next . . .

    I agree that round one is arduous. Although it's also kind of fun because I've forgotten a good bit of it by the time I finish. I want to edit as I go, but I've learned NOT to do that. Get the story down and then fix it.

    What amazes me about revising is that in round 10 I can still find things that all of a sudden are so obvious! How did I miss that the previous nine times?!?

  27. Like you, I don't revise at all through the first draft. So when I read it for the first time it's frightening and exciting at the same time. Some material is good, and some is *shudder.*

    I'm in the polishing stage right now, and I love this part. It's coming together nicely (or so I think).

  28. Maria: Ha! The endless loop of revising, right? I'm the same!

    Sarah: Same here! I want to smack my forehead--why didn't I catch that sooner?? Funny!

    Julie: Yeah, *shudder* describes it well! Have fun polishing!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  29. I agree - round one is hard. But I also enjoy the challenge. Sometimes I just have to dig in my heels and keep at it, even when I want to walk away. Other times, I NEED to walk away to gain perspective.

  30. I do revise as I go sometimes and it does interrupt my flow of writing.
    And when I start writing another chapter, I reread the four or five chapters before to get into the story, revise because I can't help it, and then start my new chapter!
    It's slowgoing!


  32. Love how you describe round 2. I like that kind of revising too. Currently, I'm in the middle of my first revision and deeling with stuff that was so badly written that I have taken to revising some of it by hand on notebook paper. It slows me down, so I can think through some of the more problematic stuff.

  33. Hi Jill -

    The first draft is my favorite. I know the edits will soon eat a chunk of it, but I love the whole creative momentum.

    Speaking of eating, those 12 pounds I lost are threatening to reappear if I don't stop eating chocolate!

    Susan :)

  34. My process is close to yours. Good to know I'm not alone. Though, my first draft is the bear. Revision after that is fun because I'm moving things around, adding, tightening, fleshing characters and such. Isn't it fun? Really. There's nothing better than writing stories and making them breath. Enjoy the journey!


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