Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Five Stages of Revisions



I’m going to start by saying I like revising. It’s one of my favorite steps in writing a novel, as you’ll see from my first stage.  It’s a good thing too, because the last few months I’ve been working solely on revisions, alternating what story I’m working on. My revisions have been based on comments from my editor, my agent, or beta readers, and with each novel I’ve gone through similar stages of liking and disliking the story. I start out positive:

Excitement: This is when I’m waiting to hear back from my editor, agent, a beta reader, or critique partners, because I know once I have feedback I’ll be able to dive back into my novel with a fresh set of eyes. I’m excited to hear what worked and what didn’t work, and I know I’ll have some type of direction that will allow me to tighten the plot and improve the story.

Dread: This happens after I receive my editorial notes or feedback. I read through the comments before I begin revising. There’s usually something that I don’t agree with. Not so much about the main plot, but about the rules to my world. I write paranormal, so there is always a good amount of world building that is needed. Supernatural characters have supernatural abilities, and in their world anything can happen. Before anyone reads my full story, I’ve spent a lot of time developing the characters, what they can and can’t do, how they look, and how they interact with the humans around them. My first thought is a change to what I have written is going to have an overwhelming domino effect on the rest of the novel. It’s at this point I usually walk away from my laptop.

Denial: Which I first recognize as frustration and it happens while I’m away from my computer. It’s when I tell myself there is nothing wrong with the scene as it is written. I already answered the questions, or what happened makes perfect sense and it has to happen the way it’s written. The problem isn’t what I wrote; it’s that the person who read the story just didn’t get it.

Acceptance: Thankfully it doesn’t take me too long to reach this point. I go back and re-read the comment and then the scene to gain an understanding of what didn’t work. Once I have a grasp on that I start to think of ways to change it so the scene does work. Often times the solution is as easy as rewording what’s there or adding missing details. Other times I find I withheld information that needed to be included early on in the book. I come up with a plan of attack, so-to-say.

Relief: I happily enter Stage 5, sleeves rolled up and fingers eagerly pecking away at the keyboard. I like this stage and once I reach it, it’s hard to pull me away from my laptop until the changes are done.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to go through my Five Stages of Revisions multiple times while revising a novel. I really don’t mind, though, because the end result is always a story that I’m proud of and that I can’t wait to share with readers.

What are your Five Stages of Revisions?


18 comments:

  1. I think I go through all of those stages as well (though sans agent or editor ;) but I don't know if you can actually call it "stages" with me, it's a bit more...lets say "fluid" (ie: all over the place).

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  2. I don't think I hit very often anymore and rarely land in denial. Maybe concerned is a better word? And I'm probably the oddball, but I'm most excited when I get the revisions back.

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    1. That's good. I spend less time in denial. I'm learning to accept things quicker so I can move to fixing them. I do like revising, but I couldn't help noticing a pattern of emotions while I was working on my novels.

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  3. I like your stages of revising! They are similar to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief LOL.

    I enjoy revising too. It's much easier than writing for me.

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    1. Thanks. :) I'm going to have to Google Elizabeth's stages of grief.

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  4. hehe - oh my gosh, this is great! I totally go through all these stages...multiple times per novel.

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    1. That tells me I'm in good company. :)

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  5. Hi Cherie,
    I think I'd have the INSPIRED stage in there somewhere--probably right before RELIEF. That's what happens when I've let the comments sit and stew for a day or so and something new--a plot twist or a patch of dialogue--comes to me and this missing piece sends me right back into my writing zone.
    Veronica

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    1. Oh, I like that. Maybe there should be six stages :)

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  6. This is a really great list! Nice post.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  7. There's a great feeling in revision in that you know you're turning stinkage into something much better. Hopefully... =) Thanks for sharing your process!

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  8. True, too true.... All of it^.
    But then there are those magic moments in revision, where feedback makes so much sense you feel you were just handed the magic key, the missing link, the golden ticket. I've had those, and they are intoxicating.

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  9. Great post, Cherie! Good luck with the revisions, and thanks for sharing this part of the process with us! = )

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