So, as I said in the previous post, I resist the urge to revise until I’ve finished a first draft. Then, ideally, I leave the whole thing for a while. Preferably a couple weeks, but in reality, my deadline is looming so it might only be a day or so.
First, I make a list of the things I need to change. This might be overall stuff like a plot thread, or pacing, or even just facts I couldn’t be bothered to check the first time round. Then I print out the whole manuscript and give it a read-through with pen in hand. Some text-level changes I make right on the ms; sometimes I go back to my computer to write fresh stuff. I’ve been known to cut pages physically into pieces to rearrange bits. Sometimes I colour-code stuff, so I can see what’s happening; often I make a calendar to check the time continuity. I might stop to figure something out using index cards or flow charts (I’m a visual thinker). I might write a synopsis at this point (I’m not good at writing them before I’ve done a draft.) All the time, I’m making more notes on my list–continuity things, or stuff I need to add more to, or questions I haven’t addressed.
I tried a pacing/plot thread chart with my last ms (Kate/Cat blogged about her own here). I think with this current one, I’ll outline the first section in index cards before I start to revise/rewrite it. I’m probably going to make lists of themes and draw out the heroine’s emotional arc, too, so I can make sure the story’s consistent.
I find revising a whole novel takes up more brain-space than writing the first draft. It’s a different kind of thinking skill. You have to hold the whole story, everything, in your head at once, whereas when you’re writing, you only have to hold the scene you’re writing. I get very cranky when I’m revising for the first time. I hate being interrupted, or doing anything else. I can easily revise for 12 hours straight, if I’m allowed to, without remembering to eat or drink, whereas I need to take lots of breaks from composing. In my perfect world, I would disappear to a cabin in the woods to revise.
Ideally, once I’ve produced a revised draft, I’d let it sit for awhile, and then go through it again. And again. In practice, my deadlines are usually too tight.
Finally, I give the book in. And then, the real work begins…but I’ll blog about that a bit later.
What do you do?