The Revisionist

It looks like this is the week. Road Trip of the Living Dead will be off to my beta readers for their oh-so helpful critique (see Mark butter up betas). Then it's on to revision time (actually in the short break, I'll be attempting a website update and catchup on some interviews that have been sitting in my inbox). I know lots of people who refer to this period as "revision hell," but I don't mind it so much.

My thing.

As I'm writing, I keep a pad next to the laptop. I edit the shit out of Chapter One. It's my basis. It's the one place I can count on to not need revision. It makes me happy. Then I write Chapter two and three. By three I'm making notes on two. What's been left out, what needs to have been left out. I keep up this way through the whole manuscript. So before I let myself type "the end", I go through my list and start doing the fix. Not that I'm all that linear. I may be writing Chapter five and think of something that needs to be in the previous 2 chapters. But I don't go back and fix it yet. Not yet.

My first draft can be the biggest piece of shit in the world. But it's still off to the Betas, including my agent, my wife, other writers, and me.

Yeah, I'm one of them. I don't need a whole lot of time to separate from my work before I can critique it. I jump right in and slap it down. I can do it because I write all over the place. By the time I've finished the draft, I've never read the manuscript straight through.

Maybe that's weird. I don't know.

From there I just pray that there aren't major changes necessary, rather little fixes, punching up or down humor and personality traits. Building suspense through expanded description. That kind of thing. I hope. I hope.

On my final run, I tidy the grammar, hunt for weak verbs, minimize adverbs and dialogue attributions.

At least that's the plan. It's my first time running it this way. Happy Hour was more slipshod and random. I'll let you know how it turns out.

So now, I'd like to know what you've got. What revision tricks do you pull out for that first draft, second, third, or what have you?


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