Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Revision: Going Small as a First Step

My actual first step to revision has been to try and fail repeatedly at revision. There's something to be said about trying, failing, and trying again. But I said a lot of it in my last post.

So, here I'll share the one thing that helped moved the revision forward. I single-spaced my manuscript, made the margins .5 all around and shrunk the font to 7 pts.

Viola. A little mini-me manuscript.

I got the idea of shrinking the manuscript from Darcy Pattison over at (the post is here Thanks to fellow Sunday morning writer Jude Whelley for sending the link.

I didn't follow any of Pattison’s other advice on what to do once the manuscript was shrunk, but shrinking it down was the perfect first step for the others that followed.

I am a whole-to-part learner. I can write a novel one page, one day at a time, with only a vague plan and a bevy of characters, but once my novel was written, I couldn't see it. I tried spreadsheets, notecards, and post-it notes. All those things asked me to look at parts to envision a whole. That didn't work for me. But 7 pt. font did.

Once I had my manuscript down into a manageable pile, everything was visible (so long as I took off my glasses and put my nose right on top of the paper). With my 34-page novel, I could update my spreadsheet more easily. I could track the character and plot arcs, I could make a visual key for where my characters appeared and where they seemed to disappear for no reason.

And, I could carry those 34 pages with me in a medium binder clip with my character quick notes, my plot braid, my novel calendar, and my character's class schedules. It was easier to get my papers out and flip through each chapter to look for continuity problems.

I’ll talk about those other elements later, but for now, I’ll leave you with this step. Feeling stuck? Shrink your novel in order to see it more clearly.

Some things I’m going to try this week before I print Bed of Bones to revise.

1) Find character names and replace them with highlighted character names (a different color for each character). This will allow me to skip the scan and highlight step I took this time around.

2) Search for common locations. In my novel, the Louvre, Hotel St. Pol, the Seine, the King’s Garden, and Rue this and that are important places that it might be helpful to track. I can search these and highlight them in order to see the movement through space better.

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