Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday's Writing

This is a completely re-written beginning to a romance that I'm attempting. The original beginning is still in my document because sometimes those words will re-inspire me. Sometimes, I decide I want them back. I'm very fickle in my revisions. But after several years, I've learned a few things. Take a look at my example.

            The announcer’s voice on the super sized TV boomed through the bar and informed Carrie that the ball was rising in Times Square. She couldn’t watch because she was answering questions from ten different servers ten servers flocked around her with questions while she simultaneously adjusting adjusted a guest’s check and used hand signals to get her bartender started on popping the cork off the cheap champagne. Carrie watched the couples around her scoot close and prepare to share their first kiss of the New Year. She longed to share a first kiss this year with her new, and first, girlfriend. Instead she had incompetent morons asking her questions about the one cent charge for the champagne toast her restaurant offered.
            “I told my guests at table 63 that it was free. They’re going to see one cent on their check and be pissed, Carrie. We can’t call it a complimentary champagne toast and then charge one cent,” Brian whined.
            She looked at the twenty year old law student with the intelligence of a genius and the common sense of a gnat. Instead of fighting with him, she dug in her pocket until she felt the smooth surface of a penny.
            “Then deliver this with the check, Brian.” She pressed the penny into his palm and closed his fingers around it.

Revising can be a real painful experience. We chop out precious words that we love, wipe out entire scenes, play with the heart of our WIP uadd entire scenes and basically ntil it beats steadily.

I do a lot of visual editing. Some people prefer to print off their document and use different colored pens. I do this but usually not until I think I'm completely finished revising on the computer. Once a document is done, I will print it and do some revisions with good ol' pen and paper. 

Saving all those deleted words can sometimes trick your brain into carrying on. Rather than hit delete after highlighting that entire two pages of dialogue...choose "cut" instead and paste your deletions in a new document. This makes it easier to cut all of that out. Then it makes it even easier if you realize that only one page of dialogue should have been cut. Or if you realize that there was one stellar sentence you want back. 

As you see, I have lined through parts that I will eventually delete. In the meantime, I don't go into panic mode because those words are still there if I need them. 

Highlight your verbs. This way you can see how powerful or weak they may be. Same thing with dialogue tags. Highlight them a different color. It's also instantaneously visual if you are using too many tags, too many 
verbs or not enough.

Color your words! If something isn't jiving but you're not sure why; don't get rid of all of it. Change the color of the text so that you will automatically look at it again in the future. 

Unless you absolutely love revision, don't try to do it all at once. Take a lot of breaks because right now is when you need to be fresh! I try for a chapter at a time. Sometimes I will even read them out of order, just so I don't bore myself with reading the story two hundred times in a week. 

What do you think? How does your Revision Process work?


  1. I just started using color coding and highlighting. Also never delete anything, just cut and paste into another doc. This has saved me from many a nightmare.

  2. I hate to cut words, but of course the story reads so much clearer and smoother. Still, I love my words. Sometimes I'm like, 'but I love that sentence/description.' Then a voice [or a friend who has given looksie] says, "YOU DON'T NEED IT."


    I don't know about all the color coding; it would distract me. But, I do keep another doc with cuts like you mentioned. Because sometimes I can use them somewhere else or decide that I liked that part better.

    And, strikethrough. I like that. So it is gone, but it isn't just yet.

  3. I teach my students to highlight with colored pens in this same manner, and they're always amazed at much better the revisions go, once they've done this process. Highly recommended!

  4. Congrats, I have chosen you for the Lovely Blog Award.


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