?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
17 May 2012 @ 12:02 pm
Revision.  

I think that I often do my best work during the revision/rewriting phase.  I'm also a bit of a process junkie - I love hearing how other people write.  Not the decisions about story and character, but the actual, physical mechanics of writing.  Any thoughts on your revision process?  What are some of your tricks?



I feel like printing things out and working on a hard copy can make things pop out that just won't if I'm looking at it on the computer.  Not just typos, but all sorts of things.  Especially pacing issues.  Sitting down and reading something straight-through really only works for me if I have a hard copy; I almost always end up getting distracted in some way or another if I'm reading something on the computer.

I also really like printing things out with multiple pages on one sheet of paper.  It makes it easier to visually assess the material (though this may be more applicable to screenplays than prose).  In some ways, it's like working with note cards, but I like being able to see the entire scene and not just a summary.  This latest screenplay, I caught that I had two scenes with long monologues back-to-back, and was able to move one - I'm not sure I would have picked up on that just reading page by page, but being able to actually see the blocks of dialogue is what worked for me.

Finally, I think handwriting works because then when it comes time to type that material up, you get another editorial pass.  No matter how many times I go back and forth, I still catch things I somehow missed before.  Besides, I think any time you view something in a different format, you see different things.  (Once, I rewrote a movie in prose format, no dialogue for the most part - not really a treatment, more like a short story.  In that case, I realized that I was missing a midpoint of any real import - why I couldn't see this otherwise, I don't know, but in writing it out that way it just jumped out at me.)

Tags:
 
 
 
Icepixie: [Farscape] Zhaan touch starsicepixie on May 17th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
As evidenced by the fact that I'm still avoiding working on my space pilots story, I hate revision. Well, I hate big-time revision. I love word-, sentence- and even perhaps paragraph-level revision, and I could tweak stuff on that level all day. (Maybe it comes from writing poetry?) But I really don't care for cracking the chest of a scene and going in to operate. I can get into the actual writing of new material, especially if it's a long, unbroken chunk, but I've never liked trying to integrate it back into a scene. I get...I dunno, intimidated by what's already there? To be fair, I revise a lot as I'm writing, from inserting new scenes to deleting large chunks of text and rewriting them, so I think I feel more of an investment in what I have in a first draft than some do.

I can sort of trick myself when I'm just at the tail end of the first draft. I print out the story once it's reasonably complete and go through it, marking for sentence-level stuff as well as things like how I need another scene here, xyz needs to happen here to make this later thing believable, the tension needs to be increased in this scene, etc., and then I don't mind making the revisions so much, perhaps because I'm still in "first draft" mode.

(All of which is not to say I don't appreciate your recent suggestions, because I totally do! I just need to psych myself up to actually implement them.)
Shannon: farscape aerynkungfuwaynewho on May 17th, 2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it can be pretty daunting. Sometimes the only way I can get myself started is to print the fucker out, so then I have something physical taunting me with my inaction.

I revise a lot as I'm writing, from inserting new scenes to deleting large chunks of text and rewriting them

Are there people who don't do this? I have to admit, I would be a little suspicious of a writer who just plows through from first page to last and never changes a thing while working. I don't care how well someone outlines, how in-depth their research and preparation, things just pop up and change and shift once you actually start drafting.

But I really don't care for cracking the chest of a scene and going in to operate.



(All of which is not to say I don't appreciate your recent suggestions, because I totally do! I just need to psych myself up to actually implement them.)

Hee! No worries. I have had so many workshops where I've received suggestions and have thought, "yeah, no, not doing that," so I don't expect anyone else to be any different. And I find sometimes where even if I disagree with the specific "what if?" given, if I can trace back what in the original the reader was having problems with that prompted them to make the suggestion, I can get just as much if not more out of that comment than anything else. (By which I mean, thank you, professor, whose one comment on my screenplay where the entire movie is about a girl finding out her father is a serial killer was: "what if her father wasn't a serial killer?" Yeah...)
Icepixie: [B5] Londo makes confettiicepixie on May 18th, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
Sometimes the only way I can get myself started is to print the fucker out, so then I have something physical taunting me with my inaction.

Yeah, that usually gets me working on it as well. The problem comes when it's time to input the changes I wrote on the paper into the computer. A lot of the time, I can talk myself out of making them (especially the ones that are like, "Make this sound better!"), which is bad.

Are there people who don't do this?

I've actually known several people who do, although they do it more frequently with non-fiction. I think they'll change direction pretty easily, but they don't necessarily go back and read what they've written until it's done.
cath822cath822 on May 17th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
So, this isn't a creative text, but in terms of the Dissertation of Doom revisions, my advisor has been making (LOTS OF) notes in the margins of the paper drafts that I give her, and then I keep them next to me at the computer and go through them page by page and make the corrections as I go. If I can make the correction immediately (a phrasing issue, a clarification), I do, and if it's something complicated or just something I don't know, I write down the page number and the correction in a separate Word document. Then, later, I go back to my notes to figure out how to answer those more complicated questions.

Yaaaaay.
cath822cath822 on May 17th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, and this has nothing to do with anything, but I thought you'd appreciate it:

Shannon: holy shitkungfuwaynewho on May 17th, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
Is that Elwood in a zombie t-shirt on the Iron Throne?

...

cath822cath822 on May 17th, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
It's like a geeky fangirl stew!
Shannon: ad buster boobskungfuwaynewho on May 17th, 2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
That's interesting, making corrections/changes in a separate document. Sometimes I worry about rewriting something and then changing my mind later - I'll have to try that one. Sleep on it.

(I so lucked out with both my advisors when it came to my thesis. I basically had no notes at all. I'm not sure if the one actually finished.)
cath822cath822 on May 17th, 2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
The nice thing is that my advisor works heavily with my topic, and she's gone through about six drafts of some of my chapters. So, when she does eventually sign off on it, I can be pretty assured that it will be of good quality, and that the other two professors will probably not question her judgement.

It's all the same document; the second document is just a list of changes I'm going to make, and a place for me to take notes and outline. I do keep the old paper drafts, though, to see how far I've come.
singer_shaper: subtitlessinger_shaper on May 18th, 2012 05:00 am (UTC)
It's interesting - I've fallen out of the practice of working with hard copies since I finished grad school, but I used to line-edit my classmates' work on the train sometimes, and it's definitely a different feel, especially since I often focus on the storyline when I'm working with an electronic copy. I had classmates who would physically cut parts of their stories so they could move them around on the floor, but that's not something I've ever considered doing.
Shannon: community chang anniekungfuwaynewho on May 18th, 2012 01:01 pm (UTC)
I have such envy for anyone who can read/write on a moving vehicle. I would get so much more done in my life, I think, if I could do the same.

I had classmates who would physically cut parts of their stories so they could move them around on the floor, but that's not something I've ever considered doing.

Yeah, that's a bit much. Notecards, too, or writing on poster board tacked up on the wall, etc. I mean, if it works for someone, that's awesome, but I'd start feeling like Howard Hughes if I did stuff like that.
Anne Marieindigoviolet on May 18th, 2012 12:50 pm (UTC)
OK, this is about general writing more than creative process, but I can't write straight onto the screen for the life of me. This goes for everything from essays to stories to two-line comments.

I think it's just some kind of left brain/right brain thing when it comes to typing vs freehand. I don't have a very organised mind. Things tend to come out in a stream-of-consciousness jumble and I edit them into shape afterwards, and this is much easier to do on paper where everything's on one page: I can scribble and be free and draw arrows and little stick figures. But composing straight onto the screen? Brain soup. My thoughts don't flow in the same way when I'm typing, and it's harder to see the overall structure because the letters all look the same and copy/pasting is awkward.

Once I know what I'm trying to say and start typing it up, though, the regimented neatness helps the technical side of it fall into place and the first thing I type up doesn't usually need much editing :D

I totally angst about this because I assume that everybody else has wonderful articulate prose springing fully formed from their fingertips when that's probably not true at all
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on May 18th, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
I totally angst about this because I assume that everybody else has wonderful articulate prose springing fully formed from their fingertips when that's probably not true at all

Hee! You have no idea how long it sometimes takes for me to finally hit "post." I might type a comment up and then sit and move things around, rewrite, delete, add, etc. for ages. I've saved drafts before and come back. You are totally not alone.

I can type up prose, but I have a hard time starting with screenplay format by just typing. I like to handwrite that stuff out. Of course, it's also good for me to write longhand because it forces me to be more deliberate with my word choice, which is always a good thing.

Honestly? I really only got into the habit of typing up prose because I can do it at work, whereas aside from breaks and lunches, I can't write longhand.
Martine: Avengers/Loki imprisonedla_loony on May 18th, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
I am horrible with writing when I really have to do it. Especially if it's something I need to be very sure about how I articulate it. If I have to write important official letters I always have to ask my mum to look it over a dozen of times because I suck at it.
Papers I can do as long as get the topic enough. Then I basically take anybody to revise it who has the time and will to do so. Usually again my mum or my older brother.
I can't say anything about creative writing really, I do some role playing in German and my moods come and go, sometimes I type my post in 15 minutes other times it takes me days to just find a start.

Anyway is that the zombie screenplay?^^ I just printed it out today (after I did that with the prolouge you wrote I realized it's super practical to write notes in there right away). It's a lot but I hope I can read it this weekend :)
Shannon: fringe live longkungfuwaynewho on May 24th, 2012 04:36 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply - we were on vacation this past weekend. It's funny - I have no trouble writing fiction, or even school papers, but like, important emails or resumes or anything like that? I just freeze up and put it off forever. I think everyone's got a writing thing they're not good at.
Halima: ✿ there's so much love in writingcartography on May 18th, 2012 09:09 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I admire people who can do that. I've never been good at editing, which is one of the reasons why I'll never be a professional writer. The only time I really edit is when I type up handwritten sections. But your method looks pretty great, and I've heard other people do it the same way, printing it out and all.
Shannon: b5 crewkungfuwaynewho on May 24th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
I never liked editing before - I had that attitude of "I wrote what I wanted the first time" - but grad school changed allllll of that, LOL. Especially when I took a class that was about nothing but revision.
Halima: ☆ never afraid to be sentimentalcartography on May 28th, 2012 10:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's pretty much my attitude, too. Especially because I write and re-write it all in my head before I ever touch a pen or keyboard. Hmm. LOL Well okay, I can see why that would change things. I can't imagine a class like that at all. I would probably fail.