Monday, February 21, 2011

Connecting the Dots

 
I am in the midst of hacking-up my YA Contemporary.   I received a list of suggested revisions from my agent back in December, all of which I nodded at, thinking it’d be no problem.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  What I thought would be a tiny little tweak in timing and setting has sent ripples the size of tidal waves though my manuscript.

I got to page 109 (it’s 261 pages long) with no problem, then hit a wall. . . a gigantic, steel-reinforce wall that you couldn’t even scale in a video game.   Last night, I got tired of staring at that same page, so I flipped to the end, figuring if I couldn’t move forwards, then I’d work my way backwards.

What do you know, by the time I went to bed I’d re-written the three ending chapters, encompassed a new thread, and closed one of the circles I had added in the beginning.    Today I think I’ll peek at page 110.  If I still can’t move past it, then I’ll move to the end again and start connecting the dots.

So what do you guys do when a revision has you stalled out?   

16 comments:

  1. Brilliant. I think just moving to a different scene and attempting to revise a new area got the gears moving again. Good work!

    ps. when a revision stalls me out - sometimes I'll give it to my writing partner for a fresh set of eyes:)

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  2. That's an excellent thought to start at the end, although I'm not sure if it would help me or not. I totally agree with Lindsay. I have to get a fresh perspective from someone else. Good luck with it!

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  3. I love the idea of working backwards.
    Lately I've been revising scenes by opening up a new document and writing 'possible' scenes until I get it right. This somehow frees me up.

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  4. Since I don't yet have an agent (who may have given concise feedback on what they didn't like/should maybe be looked at) I find that the best thing for me to do when I'm revising something and get stuck, is set the ms aside for a while. Unless I have a beta or writer friend who can help me articulate what isn't working, or where the hang-up is. Otherwise, I get so very frustrated that I despair the entire work, when often the answer is there, just hiding from me.

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  5. Sometimes if you compare your first chapter to your last to see if you can glimpse the "before" and "after" resolution that agents like to have in novels. If not, think how you can show the progression to where the character started to where your MC ended up, proving your theme whatever it might be. Just a thought, Roland

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  6. Sometimes I think I revise myself to death. My first novel I trimmed so much and then added more back in. I didn't have the direction of an agent though. Lucky (insert Napoleon Dynamite voice). I've been stalling revising my latest...such work.

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  7. I ALLOW myself to get stuck. When I get so frustrated with something, I just can't move forward until someone (at least one time it's been you) has said, "Get on with it!" So now when I feel myself getting stuck, I set my timer and force myself to type for 20 minutes.

    Sometimes it actually works...

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  8. What a great idea! I worry I'd be too thrown by going backwards to work effectively, though. Still, I might try it the next time I get stuck.

    When I'm stuck editing and forcing myself produces even worse results, I usually take a break and work on another project. Just the act of writing recharges me for editing.

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  9. Going to the end and working backwards is a great idea (I've heard that's a good way to find typos, too!)

    Glad it helped. Hopefully it freed up your inner muse to finish that stubborn section.

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  10. Yep, I've been there, too. The revisions my agent had me do didn't *seem* all that challenging -- until I saw all those ripple effects. Yikes. And my book is 400 pages!! LOL

    Like you, I got so tired of even looking at my book that I had to take several breaks. Eventually, I just plowed through. For me, what works best when I see a daunting rewrite ahead of me is to tackle the easy stuff first - the parts of the book I know like the back of my hand and can change easily. The not-so-easy changes, I save for later, mulling them over and brainstorming them until I'm sure I know HOW to change them well. Then, I comb through the whole manuscript twice (once quickly, once carefully), cross my fingers, and hit "send."

    Congrats, btw, for getting so much accomplished yesterday - sounds great!

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  11. I really like your blog background, btw. Very literary-looking! ;-)

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  12. I'm right there with you! I had no idea my list of changes was going to be this daunting... I explained to someone today that a manuscript is like a stack of dominoes, and if you mess with one, you have to rework the entire thing! So my one-page list of changes has turned into what feels like a near-complete re-write.

    I'm almost at the point of printing it out and doing a full read-through of my changes (I can't edit for rotten eggs on the computer). If my agent asks for a second round I may need to take a vacation first!

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  13. Ummm, I go and cry in a corner? :D

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  14. What a fascinating way to get through the revision bog! I don't have an agent (yet!), but I have done revisions, and there's definitely a ripple effect, trying to make all the loose ends match. Whew, good luck! Glad you had a breakthrough. :)

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  15. What a great way to get through your revisions. I work it from all angles and sometimes I put it away for a day or two. I know that may not be feasible for you and a deadline. Hope that once you looked at page 110 it gave in and let you work your magic. :)

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