Well it’s been a week since I started Holly Lisle’s – How to revise your novel course and the first week does not disappoint.
The lesson warns that it will be the hardest and most work intensive. I now believe it.
I’ve barely made a dent in it.
The preliminaries deal with the worksheets and Holly’s own organization system for all her notes. I wanted to comment specifically on this before anything else to say that it’s a very cool system and I intend to try it. This course seems to generate a LOT of paperwork and I suck at keeping things organized. This system seems pretty easy and it might just help keep things sane for me.
The first part of the lesson is easy and interesting. The questions deal with the origins of your story, how you came to it and your expectations from it. Basically, it’s what you wanted from the story.
I hadn’t thought about those particular ideas in years. It was very interesting to explore what I had originally wanted to do. The idea of my main character back then was so different than what I have now. I had very little ideas on plot, just a cool idea.
I have come to realise that I like the evolution I have now very very much. This isn’t to say there isn’t anything of value that I can take from the original idea. We shall see.
The second part is the intensive one, this part is reading and making notes to identify a series of problems areas in what you have now. Holly is adamant about two things: Printing out your manuscript and not writing on your manuscript at this time. Everything goes on the worksheets (which are well done, in my opinion) and I’ve recreated them in Open Office for future use. In this iteration, I am doing as the course says, printing out the sheets, writing on those and storing them in a binder.
The hard part here is to avoid line edits. I am cringing every minute. Revenant is originally a nano-novel, so it’s full of crap (and rightly so, there’s NOTHING wrong with that. Repeat after me writers: We are ALLOWED to suck! NaNoWriMo is about writing crap!) and I cringe every time I see a bad sentence structure or awkward words. There’s logic in avoiding line edits at this point, however, because Holly warns we could get bogged down line editing something we’ll just end up rewriting anyway at a later stage. That makes sense to me, but it’s hard to keep in mind.
The idea here, and it’s repeated, is that this first revision that will take you through the course is not how your usual revisions will go. This revision will be harder and more intense because you are learning how to do it. Once you learn, the process will smooth out and go faster and in one pass.
I’m still skeptical but hopeful because the information and techniques presented so far are solid.
Again, this is my opinion and I have very little experience, so take this with a grain of salt.
Stay tuned for more ahead! Feel free to ask detailed questions. I’ll be very glad to answer.