Last November, I participated in the madness that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and completed a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. In all honesty, I was quite surprised to have finished. I fully expected this project to end up on the cutting room floor, as they say in the movies, as so many of my other ill-fated bright ideas have a way of doing. But I did finish the novel, and it was a coherent story all the way through – in other words, I didn’t cheat and start writing gibberish just to make my word count. As a matter of fact, the last 10 pages are, to me, the best part of the whole book.
Anyway, after I uploaded the final draft on November 30, I promptly hit Ctrl-S and I haven’t given it a thought since. That it, until I ran into a friend from church who told me she was in the process of revising her first novel, while beginning to write her second. She happened to have “won” the services of a writing mentor for one year, and was utilizing this to help her with revisions. She meets with her mentor, a novelist and professor of creative writing, who advises her on ways to make the characters stronger, advance the plot line, and generally help decide what works and what doesn’t.
I started thinking about pulling out my little book to see what I’ve got. So, I printed it all out (88 pages, Arial 11, single spaced) and put it in a bright yellow folder. Yesterday morning, while enjoying my morning coffee, I gathered my courage and started reading.
It was a really interesting experience for me, because I had written it all in such a frenzy last November, that I had completely forgotten most of what I’d written about. Of course, I recalled the basic plot, but I had totally forgotten most of the details and how I had moved the story along from point A to B. I found myself getting quite interested in this story, simply because I had forgotten so much of it in the whirlwind to get it done.
Having re-read most of it, I’m now thinking it might be worth revising. Trouble is, I have no idea where to start, and unlike my friend, I don’t have a professional mentor to help me along.
Revisions are always a problem for me – I have a hard time seeing where things are wrong and thinking of ways to fix them. It’s part of my personality I think ~ in general, I’m quite easy going, and tend to be happy with the status quo. So it’s hard for me to read with a critical eye – even my own stuff. I mean, I know it’s not perfect, I just don’t know what’s wrong with it!
In the coming weeks, I’ll be perusing my writing library for some advice on how to go about this business of revision. In the meantime, I’ll be on a little retreat, starting tomorrow, as we’re traveling to Miami to attend my daughter-in-law’s “swearing-in” as an official American citizen 🙂
So, how about you? Do you have a revision process that works for you? Have you read any good “how to” advice about revising?