Thursday, May 21, 2009

Revision Measuring Stick

While I was feeding my genius at the SCBWI WWA conference over the weekend, I was chatting with the lovely Holly Cupala.

You may remember back to the good ol' days of NaNoWriMo when we pushed each other by cracking the whip (in our case a licorice whip) to crank out BIG word counts. We even accomplished some 5 K days. Ah, those were good times.

It just so happens that revisions and those gratifying 5000 word days have been on my mind, because you can't get that same satisfying feeling (5000 words is 5000 words no matter how crappy they are) while revising.

So, I've been wondering, how do you measure revision progress? (I'm really asking the question.)

While I was chattering away with Holly, she said that we need to crack the licorice whip (in regards to our revisions). But I was all-like, how do we do that? What does it look like while we revise?

Anybody else in the same Revision Boat?

Let's crank it up, get it twirling, so we can crack it with a big loud WHERPLASH!


minnie said...

So, my mode of working is part handwrite, part computer. Regarding revisions...well...recently I physically dumped a bunch of sections (which I used to think were integral) into the garbage. And I didn't miss them. That felt good. For me, removal is just as good as editing. Better actually.

holly cupala said...

Ready to start on Tuesday? ;)

Cuppa Jolie said...

Minnie - I relate to feeling great about cutting. That was my experience just today. I got rid of 500 words from one chapter.

Holly - You know I am. Let the licorice fly. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm slugging through my revisions and finding it hard going. It's my first mystery. Whatever possessed me to... never mind. I love my story and I love my MC and every love affair has its rough patches.

But I need someone to stand over me with a whip. Or a time limit. Or a miracle.

Wanda in AL

C. N. Nevets said...

It took me several reads to get to your main point, because as soon as you said licorice whips I had to keep making runs to the convenience store. Jeesh.

So, I can finally reply as I chew my way through this licorice pipe. (I wish! Those have gotten so hard to find.)

It's a really good question you ask. It's easy to set wordcount objectives and easy to know when you've met them or failed to and really easy to be accountable to others by reporting those.

Revisions are harder to predict and to quantify.

There are a couple of things I've tried before, with varying success. One was to arbitrary amount designations like, "20 pages revised each day," or "one chapter revised every two days." some days that's fast, some days that's torture, depending on how bad the sections are.

The other main method has been to start with a read-through, marking major revising themes and making big picture notes, "bad commas all over," "fix dialogue here," "consistency bad in carwash subplot," things like that. And then I would use those frameworks as my progress-markers.

C. N. Nevets said...

Okay, I just read this comment when I'm way too sleepy...

But I need someone to stand over me with a whip. Or a time limit. Or a miracle....and my brain transformed it into...

But I need someone to stand over me with Miracle Whipe for a limited time.I think it's bed time.

Stephanie Perkins said...

It IS hard to measure revision progress. I most frequently measure it in time spent working rather than chapters or pages, because some sections need so much more help than others. But I always feel good if I've at least put in the hours.

I wish you continued good luck and FUN!