Revising, Working with Time

Each major revision, I’m learning, takes a bit of customization to my process to fit the most current project I’m working through. Having a process is key, but it is not what will get the job done completely.

Last week, as I was struggling to finalize the new outline for the manuscript, to wrestle out each detail of the second act of the story and then work on redoing act 3, I stopped. I was frustrated and felt myself painting my future writer-self into a corner. I love an outline and need to know, to a certain extent, where the story is going before I start getting there. What I realized though was that for this particular manuscript, it was more important to leave some room for the characters to get where they’re going. This story is switching to be a dual POV (point of view) manuscript and so the amount of space needed in the outline, while it might not double, definitely widens. Knowing I need to leave space enough for each of the narrators to explore their world and relationships as they go, and then include their revelations in the story is hugely important. Once I’d wrestled all of this out of my mind and realized what was happening, I knew the best thing to do would be to change my timeline to include at least a few days after my planned rewrites for act one and then act two are complete. In that time between acts, I will review what has taken place within the previous act and then what needs to be changed, added, and/or revised into the following act before beginning those rewrites.

I also realized that, much as my brain wants me to tackle the manuscript one chapter at a time as I have before, following a set amount of chapters completed each week, that my revision process has evolved from that. Now, after I finished writing a chapter, I’m taking my time to analyze it and make sure I’ve accomplished what I wanted to in the scene, that the action and reaction are cohesive. I found myself a few days last week stopping in the middle of a scene to make notes on the following scene, knowing the action from the current one was giving me insight into something I needed to know for the next. I took the time to write that down, to leave myself reminders and notes about what I need to remember or what I need to include in the following scenes based on the insight I’d gained writing the current one. Did it slow down my process? Yes. Did it mean I couldn’t neatly check off the box that meant I’d completed drafting chapter two? Yes. But did it also mean that I’d worked chapter 2 to the point that it rippled into better understanding of the chapters/scenes following, and that I’d been able to make notes about those things? Absolutely yes. Knowing all of this, I have to work to move my mindset from ‘check off this box saying I completed chapter 2 today’ to ‘check off the box that says you worked toward your goal, made great progress, and are moving the story forward.’ I am going to work hard this week to settle myself into that mindset and take it with me moving forward, knowing that I have already unlocked that next level of revising I was striving for when I began this project and if I can keep bringing myself back to this space, the draft of MS:TS I’m writing is going to be so much better for it.

In case you haven’t been told today, you are more than enough.

With you in words, Nikole

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