March 02, 2011

Last chance

I am going over PRODIGAL MAGGIE once more with a fine-tooth comb.

My method is this:

I go through one chapter at a time, in order.  For each chapter, I read through my beta-critiqued manuscripts, incorporating changes as necessary.

Next I read the chapter out loud. This is helpful in many ways, especially in picking up on clumsy sentence structure and inauthentic dialogue.

As I go, if I cannot quite make my mind up about a beta comment, or can't decide if one word or another works in a particular sentence, or there's anything else I need to mull over, I add it (the text in question, the problem I and/or my beta(s) have with it, and the page number) to a file, which also includes overarching changes (such as deciding to spell a last name differently), and words I notice I'm overusing. I will review this list once I've gone through the entire manuscript.
Once I get through all the chapters and review the above file, making decisions on those items, I will print the newly polished manuscript (in a different font, as the wise Holly Dodson advises), and read through one more time.

I'll fix whatever (hopefully) minor things I find, then it will be query time.

How does the final sweep of your work compare to mine? MAGGIE being my first novel, I've never done a final edit before querying, so I'd like to know how others go about it.

It feels like I could tinker forever, but I know I just have to get it out there.


JEM said...

Interesting process, good luck to you! I finished the first draft of my WIP this weekend and am already going through making big structural changes to the sequence of events and the plotline based on feedback from readers. After that, I have no idea what I'll do :).

The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

I love when you post about your editing and revising techniques; you're so analytical and thoughtful with each little detail.

I totally agree in reading things out loud--- especially since my big revision project recently was the monologue, which had to be performed. If it sounds right out loud, that's how it should go on paper.

I printed mine out in chunks, then pasted each chunk on a big index card, worked it all around, threaded things on small index cards... Of course, that works much better with a smaller piece.

But my revision and outlining technique comes down to index cards. They're inspiring, I guess?

Great post! Good luck! :D

Miss Cole said...

Good luck to you!

I'm a highlighter fiend. I highlight stuff that needs changing or, like you, sounds like it's been used too much.

I use red pen to make notes to myself and reading aloud is so important to catch mistakes you would otherwise miss.

Remilda Graystone said...

I think I'll try your way because I'm kind of in the same place, and it does feel like I could keep tinkering with it for forever. *sigh* How you edit sounds much better than my way, so I'm glad for the post. And good luck with querying when you get around to it! Hope the journey is easy and bump-free!

Abby Stevens said...

JEM - I wrote MAGGIE sort of oddly. None of my betas ever saw a first draft. My 'alpha' saw probably something like a third draft, and my betas saw a fifth-ish draft. Bizarre, I know, but that beginning definitely affects my process now.

Glenna - Thank you! I don't feel particularly analytical or thoughtful, lol, mostly just lost!

For a monologue, I think note cards is an excellent idea, and reading aloud is a must!

Miss Cole - I always kinda wished I could be one of the highlighter-types when I was in college. It just looks so neat, going along highlighting with different colors and using post-it flags and stuff, but my brain just doesn't seem to work that way (which is weird since I'm a visual person...?)

Remilda - Thank you and thank you! I wish the same for you (and all my other writer friends ;))

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