My (Current) Revision Process

It’s week three of revisions on Surreality, and so far the week has been off to a slow start. I’m planning a “makeup” writing session at 5:30am at Starbucks (and hour in the past by the time you read this) so I’m writing this post while the wife watches Bones.

Fellow revisionist Monsignor Buckley wrote yesterday about his revision process, so I thought today wouldn’t be a bad opportunity to talk (again) about mine.

It’s different with every book.

Heck, it’s different with every draft.

The fractal book followed a similar pattern to the revision process Brian was describing, though never with another blank canvas. This was in part due to the fact I was passing chapters back and forth with the little red haired girl. I’d finish a chapter, cut it out into a separate document, and merge in her changes, while making adjustments between the two drafts.

Much the same way congress drafts bills. *shudder*

Surreality’s official revision number is 3, though a more accurate term would be version. Like software Surreality has been through countless “builds”, not including the ones that created actual eBook files.

Believe it or not revision 1 was done entirely by hand, twice. Once by myself, and then again by my wife. Before the fractal book took me away from revisions of DM I revised about 150 pages of that draft as well, again by hand. I had this idea in my head that revising by hand made me see every word better, but it may have been more true that I was just killing trees.

This draft I have an eBook version of Surreality on both my Kindle and my Nook (so I don’t have to remember which one to use). I’m back to using the netbook fairly exclusively on the road. I’m copying nothing directly, so I’m retyping the entire draft which has roughly the same affect as making changes by hand (except it’s a little faster). Inevitably I make changes along the way, but they tend to be more organic, and hopefully fit the flow of the narrative better than trying to insert those sentences into fully formed existing paragraphs.

For some chapters it’s probably best to say this draft is “inspired by” the original text. Between changes of scenery, adjustments to characters and motivations, and just general patch work this draft will be a very different read from the previous draft. So far I think significantly better. Each writing session I read all or most of the previous day’s writing, fixing mistakes as I find them and often getting 50-100 words of my word count done before I’ve really gotten going (though other days I’ve cut almost as much).

I’ve also done a few test eBook versions of revision 3 as a little reward to myself, though Word 2003 is not as good of a source editor as 2007 so results have been a little inconsistent. I’ll probably have to try the “nuclear option” before final formatting. I’m intrigued by programs like Sigil so even though this book is just text, you may see a couple more formatting guides come out of me yet.

I think the 800-1000 word pace is working, though I expect for some sections I will go faster. Conversely, some of the new material has taken me hours to work on due to research and trying to create the best dialog possible. But I’m trying to keep the little progress bar moving most days, and even that little gold star of getting to update my progress makes me feel good about the day’s work.

I expect things will get even more interesting as the little red haired girl hands me back the first few chapters. That’s when we’ll know if this draft is better or not 🙂

What’s your current revision process? How have you changed it between books or even between weeks?

1 Comment

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One response to “My (Current) Revision Process

  1. ‘For some chapters it’s probably best to say this draft is “inspired by” the original text.’

    This is a great way to put it. I feel the same way about some of my “revised” chapters.

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