Primary revisions complete

I meant to post this a while back, but things have been a bit hectic around here, what with spending every night working on a synopsis and query letter for Urban Mythos. Now that's out of the way, I can finally focus a bit more on sharing overall progress. As the title says, the primary revisions of the book are done. I've been following my revision process for the most part. And like any "process", it changes over time. That's a good thing. You can't just invent something and expect perfection off the bat.

You can't set off to create any sort of framework, be it writing, revisiing, software development (my day job). If you do, you'll fail every time.  These kinds of things have to develop over time. They come about organically through experience.

Great. So now that I've rationalized not following my revision process verbatim, let's check the progress.

Revision Round #3 - Grammar and Dialog
  • Judicious use of MS Word spell and grammar check. Correct as needed.
  • Read the book out loud, or use tools like ReadPlease to read the book to me.
  • Immediately fix the obvious grammatical issues.
  • Immediately fix the horrendous dialog that the ear makes far more obvious than the eyeball. 
It took a few weeks to get through this round and when I finished, I realized that after the decrap-ification of round #1, this was probably the most important bit of revising I'll do. If decrap-ification ensures that the book is sensible and consistent to the author, this round catches almost everything else. The most important piece is the reading out loud. I used ReadPlease this time, and that android in my computer helped catch any number of issues:

  1. Misspellings (the easy part).
  2. Run-on sentences.
  3. Awful dialog.
  4. Pacing issues, both within a sentence-- when to add or drop a comma--and spanning a scene--when to chop up long sentences or combine short ones.
  5. Repeated words and phrases.
  6. A milieu of misses
I read along while the computer speaks, and I cannot begin to tell you how this helps. Issues jump off the page as do ideas on how to fix them.

After completing round three, my confidence in this book is absolutely brimming. The feedback I've received from my critique partners at the YA forum on WDC has been equally positive. When I compare this book with my first book and the feedback I've received, especially around voice - let's just say I've traveled light years.

When I look at the remaining rounds of my revision process, I hesitate.

Revision Round #4 - The automaton editor - bring on the pain
  1. This is where I take the book chapter by chapter through manuscript editing software. I've used AutoCrit and been quite happy with the results.
  2. This isn't so much about grammar or spelling, but more about finding repetition, clichés, poor sentence pacing, readability, etc.
  3. This is tedious and painful. The Terminator is not kind.
  4. Revise appropriately.

I'm thinking of giving round four a miss primarily because of how deep the revisions were from round three. A lot of the benefit of the automaton editor above: finding repetition, clichés, poor sentence pacing, readability... Heck, I've gone through that in detail already in round three and I feel excellent about it. I think I may run a couple of chapters through, just to see what it finds, but it's otherwise coming off my list for now.

Revision Round #5 - One last look - one rule - no MAJOR changes allowed
  1. Gather any additional feedback and revise as needed (see round #2)
  2. One more MS Word spelling & grammar check.
  3. Final read through and tweaks.

Obviously this round goes on until the book is published. I'll continue to solicit feedback from my critique partners, and my immediate family and very close friends who will get a look at the book. When an agent discovers the book and my general delightfulness *WINKS*, the feedback will continue. And then when the book is sold, there will be an editor as well. So, round five's definition will change a bit. Also, the "no MAJOR changes allowed" rule will need to depend on who is giving me said advice.

Meanwhile, it's awfully hot out. I've finally cooled down from mowing the lawn this morning. It's time to get some reading done in the A/C and maybe play a half hour of Simpson's Road Rage on the Wii.


Chris Catledge said...

Good luck with your revisions. You've given me some good advice like Autocrit and just the entire Decrapification process. I'll have to check my computer for a reading program. I think i have one on Mac.

Jay said...

Hey there, Chris. Thanks for dropping by! The Mac has a solid built in reading program with a far more human voice than what windows gives you.