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Capella
Dark Cat of the Sith
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rochester, NY
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2009-11-02, 12:15

So after posting my awful disappointing Story Exchange story, I sat down and did a post mortem of it. This made me start wondering: what process of revision do you guys go through? Do you revise? What amount of time do you wait before you revise? Do you send it to a beta reader for critique? If so, how many? Etc, etc. So I figured I'd share my revision process with you guys, and see how you all revise as well.

I typically wait a week before I touch my writing again. I am one of those people who rereads it later that night or the next day and hates it and wants to delete it. What I do is wait a minimum of one week before I open it again. This gives the story time to grow cold and gives me mental distance from it so I can approach it more analytically. If I've been thinking about the story in the meantime, I have to wait longer to get my mental distance.

Once my wait is over, I go over it with a sort of checklist. This checklist varies between my original and my fanfiction work. For original work, it involves things such as Is my worldbuilding sufficient and Are my characters acting consistent and Are my characters growing and Is my magic/technology/cultural/what have you systems self-consistent. For fanfiction, it involves questions like Am I staying true to the spirit of the universe and Are my characters sounding like their source and If I am diverging am I doing it believably. For both there's the checklist of How well am I portraying what i set out to portray. No matter what checklist I'm doing, I make sure to run it through.

Next I move on to the technical checklist. Terms, grammar, spelling, perspective, etc. This checklist usually takes the least amount of time because I'm pretty good (I think, anyways) at the technical things. It can take longer if I'm working in an unfamiliar style, though, such as first person.

The next step is beta reading. I try to get at least 2 betas for every project, a source beta and a strange beta. My source beta is someone who is familiar with the world I'm writing in. For fanfiction, such as KotOR, it's at the minimum someone who is familiar with Star Wars, but it's usually someone else who has played and loved the game. I have source betas for my original works as well, because one of my personal methods of world building is to talk out aspects of my world (be they cultural, rules for magic or technology, characters, whatever) with another person or two, because their feedback usually helps me deepen my world. The source betas know about the world I'm working in and can thus check me on how well I'm working with my source material. The strange beta, on the other hand, is a beta who is unfamiliar with either the canon (if it's fanfic), or with my world (if it's original). A strange beta doesn't know anything about the world I'm writing in, so they provide a perspective of how well the story can stand or fall on its own inherent merits. I refuse to publish a work unless it's been checked by both kinds of betas.

(Intriguingly enough, I don't know very many people who take this dual beta approach. In fanfic it's usually just one same-fandom source beta that you always use and is your bff. I find this method more rewarding because I love the input from the strange beta who knows nothing, but I realize it would probably drive others batshit.)

Anyways, after beta reading, I get back the copies with all their annotations. I then take these copies, go over the changes, and either incorporate them or call the beta back, talk about why I don't agree with the change, and try to come to a compromise ground with them about it. If two betas disagree, I try to corral all 3 of us to talk together and try to come up with something we all like.

Once it's been betaed and revised, it goes back to the betas for a final check. If it passes final check, it gets posted (fanfic), or I start looking for markets to shop it to (original work.)

This is probably more than you ever wanted to know about my revision proccess. So, what do YOU guys do?

"A blind, deaf, comatose, lobotomy patient could feel my anger!" - Darth Baras
twitter ; amateur photographer ; fanfiction writer ; roleplayer and worldbuilder
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
awesome
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Portland, OR
 
2009-11-04, 04:20

Oh dear.

This may shock anyone who's watched me edit one of my posts dozens (yes, dozens!) of times, but revising is not one of my strengths. It's a weak muscle, perhaps because I use it less frequently - I'm competent enough at organizing my ideas so that my academic writing can meet most standards with the initial draft, with only a cursory check for typos (and pagination! Oh god, there was this one time...) before handing it in. Last week I scribbled a bit of creative nonfiction in an hour, after stewing on it for a few days, and turned it in (two minutes before the deadline! ) and received full marks for what was essentially a rough draft -- which my instructor still deemed "publishable," adding that she hoped I would consider a career in writing.

Unfortunately, I hate it. I mean, it was okay. But it's not my best writing, or at least it shouldn't be, I mean god. It probably is, because I seem to write so little (except here ). Hating your writing is okay when you're writing for a grade, but when you're writing for enjoyment, it really helps if you enjoy what you're writing. And I do...sort of. I enjoy it went it's in my head, where I can see everything perfectly, where it's clear. It's translating all that to a page that's a problem, which is why I often...don't. I once took a personality test that told me that I was a dreamer, prone to "building castles in the sky," and I needed someone to ground me so that I'd actually get something done with my life. Well, I'm still single, so in lieu of that, I set impossibly unobtainable goals for myself ("You will finish your novel this summer! OK, this fall! November?") and berate myself when I don't meet them.

I realize that this is getting a little way from revising, but it comes back to it, I promise. (Everything that rises must converge.) My problem is that most of the time I'm simply incapable of revision. You can't edit a blank page, but it's easier to fill up a blank page when you don't feel like you mar it with every stroke.

So. I don't edit, because I don't write. I'm a fraud, mostly. I do write sometimes. When I do I usually edit the first paragraph until it (sometimes literally) sings, and then give up, unable to force myself to add anything to my masterpiece and ruin it.

I do get past that, sometimes. And I do have a checklist, much like Capella describes - a lot of writing is looking at every sentence, every word, and simply asking "Is this part fulfilling its purpose?" or "Does it need to be there?" I think a lot of writers, even published ones, lose track of what that purpose is, in each paragraph, if they ever had a purpose at all.

I've gotten to the point where this was more or less subconscious, which is a nice way of saying I can fake it - I've gotten to the point where I haven't ever needed to grow any more, for school or whatnot, and so I haven't. I'm aware of my weaknesses, but nobody else is (hook), and so they will praise my "understated ironic observations" (line) and "seemingly simple prose." (sinker.)

I don't really use beta readers. I could get into why I don't, but I just cut two boring philosophical paragraphs on the thing (They were too boring. I'm a liar, you can trust me) and so I'll just say that I don't. This doesn't mean that I don't try to get "outside myself," though. Whenever I write a story I always find myself writing it for someone, usually my sister or my BFF Tay. "For" isn't the right word - that's too flippant, like a dedication. I'm really writing it to them. I imagine them reading it, turning pages at the intended pace, laughing at all the right parts. You really have to get into their head to get out of your own, so this only really works with people that you know extremely well. If I'm writing a line, I will think, "What will Tay think?"

Nothing pisses me off more than when people don't give me the reaction I want to my writing. People - people I'm close to - have out-an-out insulted my writing, usually unintentionally ("I'm writing a Sherlock Holmes pastiche called The Baskervilles." "That's stupid! You think they'd at least be able to come up with their own title! Who wrote it?" "I said I was." "...Oh.") but what bothers me more, and hurts me much more deeply, are the people who simply react the wrong way, because that represents more of a failure on my part. Such things are inevitable casualties of giving friends and relatives the summary treatment of a lengthier work ("Their relationship will seem less creepy after 250 pages of exposition, I promise!") but they burn me just the same.

That's why my best advice for editing is to actually show your work to as few people as possible. Show it to a beta, if you must, or your Ideal Reader, if you're lucky enough to have one. And talk about it as little as possible, too, if only so you can see their eyes light up all the more when they read the real thing. (Have I given my rant on spoilers here before? No?) Ideally, your friends and family won't even know you're writing anything, so that they don't do things like proudly tell your aunt you're "writing a novel!" instead of getting a real job.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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evan
Formerly CoachKrzyzewski
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Charlottesville, VA
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2009-11-04, 13:26

Unfortunately the only writing I ever do is for school, generally english papers, and like Roboman I'm terrible at revising. Or at least I would imagine myself to be... I haven't actually proofread a paper in over a year (and I've turned in maybe 5-6? If you include french compositions - the only creative writing I've done recently - that number may be up to about 12ish). That being said though I do extensively check myself as I'm writing to be sure all my pronouns have antecedents, everything makes sense at the sentence level and paragraph level, etc. I think part of me just doesn't want to read the whole thing through because I'm scared I won't like it and just be pissed off about it until I get my grade back (and then be even more pissed off about it).


So.... yeah. I should probably adopt some sort of formal revision strategy and actually write more on my own so I have things to revise. Got any other ideas for a story exchange Robo? After this week my school schedule clears up considerably and I might actually have both time and the will to write (I usually have one or the other but rarely both).
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Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2009-11-04, 13:58

Revising is always the most difficult part of any creative endeavor, in my experience. Revising requires decision making, and decision making is difficult. Ultimately, if you were so inclined you could likely revise and revise and revise forever without actually making any tangible 'progress', or maybe you would improve something, only to 'revise' it again and mess it up. I'm not fully sure how to get around this. I think every artist has their own methods. But, suffice to say, revision is always a challenge.
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
awesome
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Portland, OR
 
2009-11-04, 14:05

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachKrzyzewski View Post
Got any other ideas for a story exchange Robo?
Do you mean, like, more prompts? 'Cause Idunno, Steve Jobs fan fiction (with a time-travel pregnancy!) sounds pretty tight, man. Or did you mean, like, another "themed" story exchange? I think we'll wait until everybody has posted their Halloween ones first but if you don't want to write anything scary, don't. You can write anything. You could just, like, set it during October, or something - that would probably fulfill the theme "requirement."

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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evan
Formerly CoachKrzyzewski
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Charlottesville, VA
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2009-11-04, 15:53

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roboman View Post
Do you mean, like, more prompts? 'Cause Idunno, Steve Jobs fan fiction (with a time-travel pregnancy!) sounds pretty tight, man. Or did you mean, like, another "themed" story exchange? I think we'll wait until everybody has posted their Halloween ones first but if you don't want to write anything scary, don't. You can write anything. You could just, like, set it during October, or something - that would probably fulfill the theme "requirement."
well that's under way of course. I guess waiting for the halloween ones would be a good idea. Unfortunately the end of this week is dipping into the "will to write but no time" category for me... It will probably swing back the other way sometime soon, don't worry - just need to catch it when it's in the middle.
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