Friday, October 28, 2011

Revision: a.k.a I Liken My Manuscript to Humpty Dumpty

First of all, happy Friday! Woo hoo! Don't you just love a good Friday?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently finished the first draft of my novel. This was a huge feat, and I'm proud of myself for actually finishing the darn thing. But the thing's not really finished.

At all.

Any writers out there will know what I'm talking about. Now that the joys of drafting are over, I can look back and see how naive I really was. Let me explain. To do this, I shall demonstrate my thought process over the course of writing the draft.

Beginning of book
Me: Wow, look at how much I wrote! I'm pretty good at this writing stuff. I'm totally going to be an author in no time.

Beginning of book
Me: Yes! The plot is thickening. I'm genius. GENIUS! The story is flowing! This is actually turning into a BOOK!

Middle of book
Me: Um...what is this story about again?

Middle of book
Me: I think I need an outline. Yeah, I really think I need an outline. What am I even writing right now? WHAT IS THIS CRAP?

Middle of book 
Me: Thank you, outline, for showing me the light. Yes yes, I know, I should have had you from the beginning. All that matters is that you're here now, and I love you. *caresses outline*

End of book
Me: La la la, Let me read everything from the beginning just to see how the story is flowing...GAH! The entire beginning needs to be changed. The. Entire. Beginning. How do I keep going when I can't stop staring at the mess that is behind me?!

End of book
Me: *deep breath* Okay. Everything is crap. It's crap, okay? But I kind of understand what the story is about now. I just need to finish this draft, and then make it the story I want it to be.

After the draft is done
Me: The first draft is done! Yes! YESSSS! I am awesome! No, I'm not. The whole thing is garbage and needs to be rewritten. *sobs*

To the untrained eye, this may look like I'm just becoming increasingly more negative. But really, that's not the case. What was happening was that I was learning what it means to put a story together, and that it's not easy, and it doesn't come out right the first time around. At least not for me.

When I first started writing I thought that you wrote your book, edited a little here, changed some words around there, and voila! Done. I realize now how utterly wrong I was. Revising is NOT just going through the story line by line and making the words pretty. It's much more than that. It's literally dissecting your manuscript scene by scene, wadding through the garbage to find the salvageable stuff, tightening the plot, the characters, the dialogue, throwing out A LOT, adding stuff back in, and trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But making him prettier, smarter, and unbreakable. It's kind of overwhelming.

Yes, I just called my manuscript Humpty Dumpty. Except with revision, it's like he already fell of the wall once and is cracking all over, but I'm the one who has to push him off a second time to really BREAK him order to rebuild. Make sense, maybe? Am I just weird? OF COURSE I AM.

I'm still at the beginning stages of revision, but I can tell that this story will be QUITE different from the story I currently have. It's going to be an insane amount of work, and I have no idea how long it will take. But I do know that my story will be better for it. And that's really what matters, right? Because once that final draft is done (whenever that may be) I will finally have written the story I set out to write in the first place.

So, it's time to go push poor Humpty off the wall...he'll thank me for it later.

Oh! I almost's a nice little visual to leave you with for the weekend!:

This is a picture I took right after printing the draft for the first time. I was all proud and feeling artsy. The manuscript posed like a pro! Just looked at that nice clean stack of pages!

Okay, now to revise!


  1. It's interesting that you've chosen to re-write and lengthen your manuscript in red pen. Wait, what? Those are the revisions? :D

    It's probably great that you can be so critical of your own work - it's something I've always struggled with. But hey - at least you've got a full draft to critique and you know you're going to love the end result when you get there!

  2. Haha oh, don't worry, there are MANY pages with just a big red X through them. I'm cutting A LOT out, too :)

  3. Ha! Those look like my pages, except I use hot pink and orange instead of red. ;)

  4. Ha ha, well put! Mine looked like that (both first and second picture). I'm *this close* to printing it out again, and this is the point where I'm going to let someone else read it. Yikes.

  5. wow, our process sounds soooo similar.... well, except that I haven't actually completed the first draft.

    so funny, last night, while getting ready for bed, I told the husband "you know, I think I can really do this.. it might not be this book, but I'm pretty sure I will eventually write a book that'll be publishable'

    I loved that feeling!

    This morning? every single word has been a struggle... humph!

    I can't wait for one day to print my first draft... ahhh it will be awesome!
    so congrats... you're awesome for getting there!