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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Rigors of Revisions

Where have I been the past month?

I've been hibernating in a place I call Revision Land. A sometimes scary, frequently frustrating place that saps my time, energy, and confidence, leaving me too drained to write witty blog posts. Much as I wish I were as consistent a blogger as my agency-mate Jody Hedlund with her insightful, instructional posts or as entertaining a storyteller as agency-mate Billy Coffey with his moving tales, lately my creativity has been drained by day's end, leaving me ready for my nightly date with Calgon, a few chapters of a romance novel, and little else.

Although I've not posted my progress in a month, I've moved ahead with my revisions. I've plotted the entire story, the first half in painstaking detail. (I'm a detail person, so it's really not painful at all. *grin*) I've got the second half figured out and will plot it scene by scene soon.

The first quarter of the story was 2,000 words too long, so I had to chop them. That was painful. By moving one scene later in the story, I cut 650 words, but I had well over one thousand to go. I didn't know what I could possibly remove, but I forced myself to scrutinize every word. Somehow, I made my goal and ended up with a leaner, cleaner beginning. What a lesson. I admire those who write tight. I'm not one of them, but I watched the first nine chapters improve as a result of my pruning.

I've moved on to writing the second quarter of the story. My agent, Rachelle Gardner, had pointed out how I'd reduced the tension. Well, I've ramped it up. There are some serious sparks now as my strong, determined, somewhat stubborn hero and heroine interact, and I'm having a ball adding them.

Because our college daughter has been home for spring break, I've taken this week off. We've shopped 'til we dropped, eaten out, and had a great time. I've also tackled a few items on my To-do List, one being giving my blog a more professional look, which was one of Jody's excellent suggestions. Now instead of flowers, my latest tweet appears. Kinda cool, don'tcha think?

Come Monday, I'll return to my story refreshed and ready to write. I'm missing my characters, and, from the amount of chatter in my head, I know they're eager for me to give them my attention.

I wanna know ~

Do you enjoy revisions, or do they put fear in your heart?

Do you write tight or tend to be a bit Dickensian like me?

Do you take vacations from writing to spend time with family?


Katie Ganshert said...

Your blog looks awesome, Keli!

I overwrite ALL the time. Consistently. I usually end up cutting close to 20,000 words during revisions.

Glad you're having a refreshing time!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Spending a lot of family time lately.

At first...that first and second go through I'm not a huge revision fan. It all seems so daunting. But once I get to the third and fourth begins to entice me again. Like falling in love all over again.

~ Wendy

Kelly@ JustWrite said...

I have a love/hate relationship with revisions!! It's so, so hard for me and the only part of the process that seems like work. I am close to done (2 more chapters!) and I can't wait to send it back to my agent.

And then, yes, taking a week off to spend with my family! It's nice to miss the process and come back ready to do it all over again!

Jody Hedlund said...

The new blog look is awesome! Although I personally thought your last one was very professional too! I absolutely adore the little twitter bird at the top! Great job!

And I'm so glad to hear about your revisions! Sounds like you're plowing forward and making great progress!

Jill Kemerer said...

Your blog looks great, Keli! And I used to hate revisions, but I enjoy them now. I feel like I know what I'm doing more, so that helps.

Congrats again on your Golden Heart final!!!

Jamie D. said...

Lovely blog you have here. :-) Good luck with the rest of your revisions...

I write "lean". I'm having to add 20k words to the draft I'm revising now - and of course it can't be "filler", it has to be words that add to the plot & move the story along. Needless to say, it's a lot of work, and while I was very overwhelmed and wondering if I could do it at the start, I'm fairly confident it's going well now that I have a plan. I might even be learning to enjoy it a little...

My hubby's always right here when I'm writing late at night, and we don't have kids, so I don't really feel any need for "family time" breaks. I do take Monday nights off for a weekly manicure. ;-)

Keli Gwyn said...

Katie, I empathize with the need to put a manuscript on a diet. How do you deal with cutting that much though? Do you remove entire chapters?

Wendy, it takes me time to shift from creative mode to revision mode too. I enjoy them both though. I'm glad you're able to once you get into the revision mindset.

Kelly, how cool that you have an agent who is helping you through the revision process. What a difference it makes to have the guidance of a publishing pro. Congrats on the progress. The end's in sight.

Jody, my inspiration, thanks for the kind words about the blog. I took your advice and made a number of changes, which I think are all for the better. Now to offer content as worthwhile as yours. Um, that may be wishful thinking, but I can try. :)

Jill, thanks for the compliment on the blog and for the congrats. I was so bummed that some of my friends didn't make the GH list that I had a hard time getting excited. I'm glad you feel like you're getting a handle on revisions.

Jamie, thanks for visiting my blog. Great to see you. I can't imagine being a "lean" writer. That would be an entirely different challenge. How do you go about adding material? Do you come up with a subplot or expand the main one? Do you add scenes or chapters? How much work is it to rework things after the additions so the story flows?

Susan DiMickele said...

Hi Keli,

First, the blog looks great! As for revising, I can't help myself. I constantly revise my own work. In fact, it took everything within me not to revise the last draft of Chasing Superwoman that just went to print! And I know there will be sentences I absolutely hate when they are published. At some point, I think we need to trust out instincts (trust God!) and let go. As for time with family, I have just returned from a vacation, and I'm pleased to say I didn't write at all. And I feel refreshed! Now, that doesn't mean I didn't get a few new ideas of things to write about .....

Keli Gwyn said...

Susan, thanks for the kind words about my blog's face lift. Like you, I have a hard time saying "enough" when it comes to revising. I'm OC that way. Hitting "send" when I submitted my full to Rachelle was so monumental, I had Gwynly take a picture of me doing so. :D

I look forward to reading your book. Off to Amazon to put it in my cart.

Jamie D. said...

That's kind of a big question, Keli. :-) This draft was a mess to start with, and not knowing quite how to go about revising it, I signed up for an online course on revisions. From that, I've gone ahead and revised my outline (I use scene outlines) to include two more subplots, and expand the main plot with a new twist that will add considerable bulk to the story. I have three sub-plots now, and the main plot - and I just kept asking "what else could happen here" where ever a scene needed to be expanded.

I've started rewriting from the beginning (because several of the new scenes are right in front), and my plan is to just keep moving forward through the new outline, adding whatever I can from the first draft as I go. I think I'll be able to keep about 1/3 of my original scenes, and bits and pieces of others.

So yeah, a lot of work. I'm excited though - it will be worth it. I have another draft done to revise after this one, and it's in far better shape, so should be easier. ;-)

Keli Gwyn said...

Wow, Jamie, what a lot of work. Looks like revisions are a challenge no matter what issues one faces. Glad you're having fun with yours.

Anne Barton said...

HUGE congrats on your Golden Heart final, Keli!!! The way you're plowing through the revisions is really impressive, but I know it's a lot of work. I hope that GH final gives you a nice little boost so you can keep up the wonderful momentum.

The blog looks great, too!

Diane said...

Super busy but super productive week with your MS and daughter. Glad all is moving along well and Calgon does ease the hard days off a little. :O)

Keli Gwyn said...

Anne, thanks so much for sharing in my excitement. You're always there for me, and I'm grateful beyond words.

Diane, I'm a huge fan of Calgon. It's my daily reward, one that renews and refreshes. :D

Terri Tiffany said...

I want to know how you get those extra pages on the blog??It looks great and I have been missing you! Nice to read what you've been up to.

Keli Gwyn said...

Terri, thanks for the compliments on the blog. I spent far too long searching for a look I liked in my efforts to follow Jody Hedlund's excellent suggestions in her recent posts on blogging, but I was happy to find a template that was just what I was after.

The template I chose (from blog provider listed under posts) came with the tabs. They linked to other things such as a subscription option, but I went into the HTML and modified them so they will direct people to pages on my website. And I did it without asking my college daughter for help. Not bad for a fifty-year-old techno dweeb, huh?

If Blogger is your blog provider, you can add pages now and have tabs that link to them. Jody Hedlund and Katie Ganshert have done that, and their sites look way cool. To add pages and tabs, go to the Blogger Dashboard. Click Posting and then Edit Pages. You'll see an Add Pages option along with a Learn More link.

My other blog provider, which is the one I use to host Romance Writers on the Journey, has offered the same option of pages since I started that blog nearly two years ago. The tabs on that site appear above the header.

Terri Tiffany said...

Thank you! My job for tomorrow!

prashant said...

Your blog looks awesome
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