Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tackling the beast

Now that it's January, it's time to break out the red pen and edit my NaNoWriMo. Or to be more accurate, paste the whole thing into a new document and rewrite it. I'm overwhelmed by the thought of 181 raw pages.

I wrote my last MG novel one chapter at a time. I rewrote each chapter as I completed it, took that five to seven pages to the Slushbusters, got their feedback, made more revisions, got more feedback, and then moved on. Five to seven pages at a time was manageable. Occasionally I made a change that required going several chapters back and revising, but once I had all the characters and story in place, I didn't have to do that too often. By the time I went back and read it as a whole, it didn't need much revision.

My NaNo piece is different. I've been paralyzed by a fear of how to proceed. The last forty pages especially are confusing. As I ran out of steam toward the end of the month, I wrote a whole bunch of scenes that took place in various other parts of the story. Now I have to figure out where they go. I also want to do a complete rewrite as I read it. I kind of have to, as I changed from third person to first and back again. I want to print out a copy to read, make notes, and then rewrite it. That seemed like a lot of printing all at one time. So I've made a plan.

I started a new notebook to keep track of my ideas. (Don't you just love a brand-new notebook at the beginning of the year? Whether it's a journal at the beginning of the calendar year, or a spiral at the start of the school year, there's something magical in writing those first few sentences in a new blank book.) I've listed all the scenes that are hanging out at the end of the document. This will, I hope, remind me to insert them when I come to the appropriate place. I had intended to reorder them before I began editing, but finding where each of them goes by scrolling up and down 181 pages would be very time consuming.

I am printing out ten pages at a time to work on. Ten pages isn't so bad, right? Lisa sends us ten page chapters all the time. I didn't write in chapter breaks, so I'm hoping to figure those out as I go. Ten pages is the most I feel I can look at and keep track of simultaneously, at least until I know the story better.

So, here I am with my first ten pages and a pencil. I remind myself that I like editing. And now, finally, I'm ready to go to it.


Davin Malasarn said...

Good luck, Michelle! Your Nano rough draft sounds like a typical rough draft of mine, LOL. I hope you have fun with the revision process. Your idea of taking it bit by bit is the key to success for me.

Michelle said...

Thanks, Davin! Now that I'm looking at a small stack of pages instead of a big document, it's a lot less scary.

Sarah said...

Way to go, Michelle! I can't wait to start seeing your work.

I've been revising my MS, though I printed out the umpteen versions I had of the first third (including the new NaNo bits) and put it in a big binder. For me, it's less intimidating that way.

So funny how the both of us love revision, but go about it very differently.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I'm in the same boat, Michelle. Usually I do what you do--chapter by chapter. This time I'm revising around a workbook. Good luck!!

Michelle said...


A workbook? How does that work for revision? Is it for a class or something you found on your own?

Vonna said...

I enjoyed this post; it's the first one about NaNo that made me feel like giving it a try next year. I want to learn to get through my first drafts more quickly and NaNo might be the ticket. Good luck on your revisions.

BTW- I found your blog through Mother Reader's comment challenge.

Shelf Elf said...

Well done doing NaNo! I've dreamed about it. My writing goal this year is to just keep writing, as many days a week as I can (hard when you work a full-time job).

This is my first visit to you blog! I'll be back.

Jaymie said...

I have been avoiding my NaNo piece, too. I am all too aware of its flaws and wonder sometimes if I would be better off starting something from scratch. Good luck with your revisions.