Sunday, January 22, 2017

Layering Up

Even though it's winter in Ohio, my post today is not about adding layers of clothing to keep warm during the next few months.

I'm in the midst of revisions to my WIP. Each author has to figure out what style of writing works best for them. For me, I need to write a flash first draft, to get the story line down. I don't want to spend a lot of time writing scene after scene only to decide the story's going off in the wrong direction and have to scuttle my work. So, I start with a beat sheet, a rough outline of the story. Then, I'll write the story quickly, leaving out details, descriptions and possibly even a scene or two. If I can get my story line from Start to Finish without mishap, then it's time for revisions.

Revisions, at least my version of revisions, are different from editing. I sprinkle in a lot of Margie Lawson, a little Blake Snyder, a bit of Stephen King, a healthy dose of things every editor I've worked with has cautioned me about and a little checklist of other things I've developed over the years. I add a lot more words to the story, dig deep into my descriptions, add layers and depth to the story. I hate the process while I'm going through it, but when I go back and read what I started with as opposed to what I've got now, I love the process I've developed. I just have to keep reminding myself of the end product when I want to bang my head on my desk or knock the stuffing out of my Dammit Doll.

After revisions come polishing. Does the timeline flow properly and I haven't celebrated Christmas before Halloween? Does the heroine have the same eye color/hair color from the first scene to the last? Have I grounded the reader by showing them where each scene takes place and who's in the scene?

I check the format, make certain each chapter is about the same in size, and then go through it again. Only when I can read through it and make only minor tweaky changes do I declare it ready to send out into the world. It's properly layered up and ready to go.

Obviously, I spend far more time fixing my first draft then I spend writing the first draft. My method works for me, but for others, it would drive them crazy. You have to keep working at it to figure out what works for you. But I always remember the great advice from Nora Roberts, who long ago said she can fix anything but a blank page. I'd rather work on fixing a lousy draft than have no draft at all.

And, in the immortal words of Stephen King: To Write is human, to Edit is divine.

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