Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Revisions

As I said on my Facebook status, I'm not in Revision Hell, but I've got a good view. (That's a great video of an original song by the wonderfully talented Rhona Westbrook.) That means my revisions for this paying gig aren't that difficult, but there's still a great deal of work involved.

This comes from if you change a detail in chapter 2, all references to that detail thorough the manuscript have to change. It ripples. Sort of like that theory that if you swatted a fly in prehistoric times, you could negate your existence in the future/present. (No, I don't have the energy to fact-check whether or not there were flies in prehistoric times.) My point is that time travel is generally a bad idea, unless you're a Time Lord, and what you think is a simple matter of revising a scene often has repercussions all through a manuscript.

Oddly, though, revisions are usually the period of writing where I feel more comfortable. I know the story, it's been internalized, and I'm just working on making that story stronger/better/clearer. However, in the doing of that, there's usually at least one minor plot point that becomes the bane of my existence. Not in the first pass, but in the second—when I'm wondering why no one else has noticed that Character A has forgotten something told to them by Character B a few chapters earlier and completely fails to repeat the information to Character C, despite that Character C is clearly pointing out a need for the information to be repeated.

I used to paint—digital painting more recently—and a painting starts with the flats—the undercolors. That's like your first draft. Then the fun begins, because you go in and transform a flat shape of color into a form that has the illusion of being three-dimensional. That's what revisions are, they're transforming mere words and ideas into a story that has the illusion of existing within a living, breathing world.

That's rather exciting—once you're finished. While you're doing it, it's really just a messy, messy bunch of brushstokes in various places, and you don't see the effect until you step back and look at the whole canvas. Or better, show it to a CP or an editor who hasn't seen the process and can just tell you whether or not you've done what you needed to do. (Your Companion for the journey, if you like.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to put on my smock, squirt some ideas out onto my palette, and get back to making a colorful mess inside my head.

3 comments:

Rachel said...

Wow! I totally missed that song when it was first posted! Cool!

Don't forget to clean up after you've squirted paint everywhere!

johnevans said...

Good luck with your revisions!

This reminds me of the fact that talking to someone else about your ideas can often help. Another pair of eyes can be good. My father always asks me to come listen to him talk when he runs across tricky programming problems.

And remember...Crossing into established events is strictly forbidden...except for cheap tricks.

Chandra Rooney said...

"No crossing into established events except for cheap tricks" does serve as my writing philosophy. XD