26 February 2010

How To Revise Your Novel 1

Quick note: Puppy-induced sleep deprivation and the whole new fulltime work thing are eating my brain cells. Possibly, they're also eating other cells too. I may fall apart at the seams any day now and start spilling internal organs everywhere. That would be exciting, and nearly as messy as the puppies will soon be. Bwa.

Yes, I has pointz here - for the next little while, posting on Inkfever will be Monday-Friday. Who likes Wednesdays, anyway? Ha.

On to the post...


Woo hoo!! Can you hear the screams of joy from there? Wherefore, you ask, scream I so? (oops, been watching too much Pride and Prejudice O:))

Because finally, FINALLY, I have finished lesson 3 of the How To Revise Your Novel course! YAYAYAYAYAY!!!

So, in honour of such a momentous occasion (it's only taken a month to do the relatively SHORT lesson), I'd bestow upon you all the great gift of a review O:) :D Don't you feel so privileged?

Lesson One: In which we discover our novel.

This lesson was pretty easy for me. It's something I tend to do with editing anyway, so it felt 'right'. The idea here is to discover three things: One, what you wanted when you started writing the novel, two what you got, and three what you want it to become.

One: Go back to the moment when you first started writing the novel and recall what it was that made you want to write it. Why this story? Why this way? What were you aiming for?

Two: Read through novel. Weep copious tears at how epically it fails to match number one. Use the shiny worksheets provided in the course and carefully examine what went wrong in several categories, such as story, character, worldbuilding, etc. Also keep track of bits you really, really love.

Three: Ponder upon all of this and try to imagine what you want the book to feel like when it's finished. Create a goal. Know what your intent is with your editing - otherwise you're guilty of Editing Without Intent >:)

This lesson was great because it gave me a feel for how much was really wrong with my story, and by using the worksheets I was able to identify that a few things that felt like lots of little problems were in actual fact just one big problem! :D

Lesson Two: In which we consider the nature of promises.

Every writer in existence really needs to have read this lesson. Holly talks about the promises that we make when we write a novel, some of which are universal to all novels (such as 'I will have something interesting to say' and 'I will not waste your time'), some of which we intend (the details we use to foreshadow, etc), and some of which we make without even realising it (eg, the details that we get a little too carried away with for no reason other than that they were pretty).

And even better, Holly talks about how to identify these promises. How can you tell when you've promised something? How can you tell when you've promised too much? Or too little?

When we write, there's an implicit promise that everything we include will be significant in some way. If there's a loaded gun in chapter one, it'll be fired (see Chekov). If the character introduces themself as having a particular issue, that issue will be addressed (if not resolved). And so forth. Promises are the foundation of story, the essence of your relationship with the reader, and they matter.

This lesson is all about identifying what you've promised, and whether you've followed up on that or not. I have a couple of random characters who are just that - random asides. They're not actually contributing to the story in any meaningful way - and I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been looking at promises.

Lesson Three: In which we examine the scenes.

Ironically this is the lesson that took me over a month to complete, and yet it is way, WAAAAAAY shorter than the other two. You've heard me talk before about The Sentence, that neat and tidy little way of encapsulating your scene and/or story and making sure it has all the necessary elements.

In this lesson, we go through our story scene by scene and create a Sentence for it. I tell you what, I thought I understood The Sentence before - but boy was I wrong!! Nothing, NOTHING, that I have encountered breaks down a scene so easily, in such a raw way, stripping away everything else and letting you scene it for what it really is - broken or whole.

Even if I do no further lessons from the course at all, this lesson ALONE will be worth the $188 I'm shelling out for the course.

It's a slog in a way that the other lessons aren't, because it really stretches your brain. You're forced to consider and reconsider, and figure out exactly WHAT it is that's making your scene work - or fail.

Two things I will take away from this that will help me forever in approaching The Sentence: One, the conflict is the natural result of the interaction between the protag and the antag. It's the meat of the scene. The twist, however, is the thing that matters. It's the change that makes this scene worthwhile, it's what gives the whole thing a point - and often, it comes at the end of the scene.

In Conclusion

So, that's it for now. I wish I was further along in the course than I am, but at present I'm struggling to even find time to write, let alone work through this course as well. But as I said, even if right now, today, this minute, you told me I couldn't have access to any more of the lessons, I'd still be happy. My story is going to be so much improved I get squiggly with glee just thinking about it.

Question for you guys: What's the biggest editing lightbulb moment YOU have ever had? The single thing that sort of went 'click' and helped you figure out how to deal with the process of editing?

Also, are any of you taking the course? What do you think so far?

4 comments:

Danyelle said...

Yay, Inky! Great overview. :)

Sadly, no light bulbs have clicked for me yet. >.<

Inkblot said...

Aw, here: *sends lightbulbs*

Yunaleska said...

I'm not taking the course :) But like the reviews of the lessons.

Light bulb momnents - I guess I've just found out how to revise my novel.

Read through it once using my highlighting method

Figure out entire story (sub plots etc) and map it onto paper (Muse must do this next!)

Then rewrite.

Read through again, minor tweaks (possibly repeat highlight edit)

Send to betas :)

Inkblot said...

Yuna - awesome that you've discovered a method that works for you! :) You're flying through it, too. Yay!

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