Friday, July 2, 2010

Revision Revision

Revision Revision

guillotine Well, for those of you following along at home, two weeks ago I posted Revision Indecision, where I spoke of how my story ran off the rails. Well last night I wrote the two most special words in all of literature, “The End.” I have somewhat officially finished the second draft of Steam Palace, and it wasn’t easy. It was like a wrestling-style Battle Royale with my characters, trying to force them into some semblance of a conclusion to their adventures while they fight each other tooth and nail.

Here’s the thing. I’ve given myself a deadline (hence the guillotine). September 1. I want Steam Palace completed by 9/1/2010. Done. Out the door. That’s 60 days to go from draft to finished product. I have other projects to work on. This revision has taken forever, and right now I don’t feel much closer than I did on Dec 1, 2009 when I finished the first draft.

So what have I been doing the last seven months? Beats me. Endless analysis followed by endless planning followed by endless rewrite. My characters are way better, the story is better, and the ending, while not quite as dramatic, probably is better as well. More meaningful.

Here’s the situation. I finished with ~115K words, up from 80K in the first draft. That’s 35K additional words. I need to cut it down to at least 95K. I know I’m still a little sparse on description, setting scenes and transitions, so I need to cut first before I flesh out those problem areas. Then cut some more. This is clearly the most painful part of the process, but it’s a key skill I will need. I must be ruthless. Heartless. WWVD?*

My plan is to run through every single scene, writing down all problem areas, and scoring the scenes. Check out this example of what I do. Then anything with a bad score—cut. Any characters not pulling their weight—cut. Any subplots not supporting the main plot—cut. Then patch up all the holes, rework all the scenes into a tight POV and clear prose, and send it out. Simple, right?

And, to incent myself and keep myself focused, I’ve decided to host another blogfest, tentatively on August 31 ( but I might push it to Sept  3). I must be finished by this date or no blogfest! Stay tuned for more details. It will be the bestest blogfest eva!

On September 7, I will be sending out queries. Look out world, here comes Steam Palace!

*What Would Viola Do? Okay, I know the answer to that…cut all the scenes with Sophia.


  1. Wow you're ambitious, but I think you can do it!! 20 days to cut, 20 days to patch, and another 20 to polish!

  2. 60 days is a not a lot but I think you can do it. Also do not be too hard on yourself. Even when it is bought, the agents and editors may have some ideas so cut yourself some slack too.

  3. Good luck with Steam Palace! I'm in the middle of a first draft, still fleshing out characters (or beating them, trying to get them to talk).

  4. Good luck with the editing. I was trying to keep my ms down to 75 K, but when I went back to add the description (which was sadly lacking), the word count jumped to 80 K. Grumble. Grumble.

  5. Congratulations and well done! I went back to read your scoring post and, thanks! Very enlightening.


  6. Bravo, start slicing! Can't wait to hear your blogfest idea so get working. =)

  7. @Tesse: Easier said than done

    @Myne: I look forward to that.

    @Laura: Thanks. Beat them characters!

    @Stina: There's always more description to much is enough?

    @Olivia: Thanks!

    @Raquel: It will be awesome. :)

  8. Good luck. That's quite the deadline and I'll be cheering you on when I can. I wish I had to cut, but I have the lack of description in my writing so maybe it's okay I need to add. *cheers* you can do it!

  9. Apparently my word counts were's closer to 120K now :(

    @Dawn I need to do both...cut and and enhance what's left

  10. Hi,

    Revision is almost as bad as writing the damn synopsis!

    Cut, cut, and cut again, honing it tight; action, vision, voice - weighing the balance and allowing the senses equal dramatic flow! ;)

    I'm in the same boat, and lazily using present ms for blogfests! Why not - it's to hand.


  11. Your motivation and methodical approach to your manuscript are inspiring. I am a more whimsical writer with not as much stamina and discipline as you.

    Best luck as you finish up.

  12. Congratulations and good luck. I'm impressed with your methods of organization.


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