End of Revision Phase One

Photobucket This morning I arrived at the end of this phase of the revision process. That means I have a well-marked-up manuscript and approximately twelve handwritten looseleaf pages of notes on changes, scenes to add, inconsistencies to clear up, and things to check.

I have a feeling that that was the easy part.

All told, I logged fourteen hours of time working on this part of the revision. I expect the next phase will take much longer.

For this phase, I’ve been working at the kitchen table, because it offered me lots of room for my laptop, the various piles of manuscript pages, the notes binder, etc. Also, I’ve always found it helpful to do editing work away from my usual writing space. I don’t really know why that is; could have something to do with the different kind of brain activity, I suppose. I like to sit down away from the computer with the printout and red pen to do that kind of work.

At any rate, now I’ll be taking my pile of pages and notes and heading down to my office, to do the typing-in and new writing at my desktop machine. I’ll likely have to do some desk-cleaning first, but I think that will provide a good mental buffer while I switch from pure editorial mode into a sort of combined editor/writer mode.

The Perils of Discovery

Photobucket In my last post, I mentioned being a “discovery writer.” Now, it’s not all that long since I came to the realization that there’s a name for writers who write the way I do. Previously, I thought I was just “a writer who doesn’t write outlines.” “Discovery writer” sounds oh-so-much more interesting.

Although it still boils down mostly to the fact that I don’t tend to write outlines. Before anyone protests, let me be clear that I have tried working from an outline. In one notable effort, I outlined the second and third books in a trilogy I was writing, in which I had to that point written only the first book. The second and third books have never been written, even though I still like the characters and the story.

Why? I mean, I have the whole outline written! It should be easy!

Except that, now that I’ve written the outline, and I know how the story goes–I have no further interest in writing it.

And that’s why I don’t write outlines.

Which is not to say that being a discovery writer is not without its perils. Working without an outline is maybe a bit like being an acrobat without a net. If I fall into trouble with the story, there’s nothing to catch me and put me back on track. And to tell the truth, it makes revision work–on a novel, at any rate–quite hellish. There’s the potential for a lot of inconsistencies, dropped storylines, characters who disappear and reappear randomly, and plot holes big enough to drive a semi through.

On the upside, it makes writing first drafts a heck of a lot of fun.

And to be clear, I do make a lot of notes on a story, both before I start it and while I’m writing it. I write down everything I know about the story and then I ask myself questions about what I don’t know, and jot down possible answers to those questions, along with any other corollary questions, ramifications of the possible answers, problems and drawbacks, character notes, etc. It’s not anything I would call an outline, though, and very often I never go back to the notes once I’ve written them.

I have a great respect for story planners and outliners, and perhaps just a bit of envy, because I have to admit that it seems like it would be easier to work that way. Discovery has its own joys, however, and as a storyteller, I appreciate the inherent value of a perilous journey.