MY PROGRESSION OF REWRITING AND REVISIONS
WHAT I DID FOR NANOWRIMO WAS FAR FROM A COMPLETED MANUSCRIPT
AMBER LOVE After National Novel Writing Month, I took a little time to work on something else besides my novel. I kept a decent diary of my NaNoWriMo progress. There was a point about two weeks in where things began to flow much easier. More words were being written. I had a better grasp of moving my story forward rather than describing characters for the sake of hoping the readers would understand and connect with them. I still hope they can, but I’m not sure it’s the exposition dump in the first eight chapters that gets them there. By chapter nine, things are significantly improved in the writing even in my rough draft. My first step is go through each chapter and check for copy editing problems. As I say often, my typing is awful. This was not alleviated when the “writing” improved. My typing didn’t magically go along for that ride.
This isn’t really a revision so much as cleaning up the bad typing. I began on December 16, 2014 but had to skip the 19th in lieu of paid freelance work and then a vicious debilitating headache. I got back to it before 9am on Saturday, the 20th although I still had to work on rewrites for that paid stuff first. By 10am, I realized I was not getting anywhere further in the paid work; I was diving through more black holes of research and not producing anything new to that story. I saved that file and emailed it off the editor as a good stab at a second attempt, crossing fingers it’s what he wants.
Then I screwed around a lot doing anything that wasn’t rewriting my novel. The software was open. I had found my place where I left off. But I went to Twitter then balanced my checkbook, then bought some new leggings because the ones I had on were threadbare and uncomfortable. Eventually, I got into my novel’s chapter. I noticed that my word count was going up which I thought was kind of strange since it felt like I was cutting out big chunks of clunky sentences. But then after a couple days, the count came back down. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve tinkered with the Scrivener settings or if it’s really cutting words. I try to be diligent in which objects of the binder I want to include in the compile which is what would be in the word count. When I added details to the character and setting sheets, those words were accidentally in the total word count until I unchecked the box. I wanted to keep the notes as detailed as possible just in case I use these characters again in another book.
I was trying to keep to a schedule of two chapters a day to copy edit. Today, I did one yet it’s a better chapter. This is chapter nine where the first pass of writing got better so the copy edits and rewriting of some paragraphs make it a lot better than the preceding eight. I don’t know what that means to my work. I don’t know if I should stop right here, go back to chapter one and start over; or if I should continue to plow ahead and wait for the next pass of revisions. Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!
Dec 22 – today is technically the 7th day into the revision process but I missed a couple days while working on rewrites for that other thing – the important one that pays me. Sent those edits off and haven’t heard back; it’s the holiday week (as is next week technically) so I’m fine if they don’t get back right away. However, as for the novel at hand, I copy edited and did some rewriting on three chapters today.
Count: 12 chapters copy edited by me (probably still missed a ton of typos and skipped words). 21 chapters to go. Another thousand words were added.
At least everything is sorted in my Scrivener binder now in better chapter folders than before. I also made some more notes about characters and settings so that if I continue, I can reference them quicker. I’m so tired. It’s 3:30 and I’m not used to working on writing stuff this long – some of those days in NaNo were like this and I was wiped out.
DEC 23 – My days have been blurring together for months since being laid off and writing full-time (though only get paid for occasional freelance jobs). Pretty much the only way I know what day it is, is because of Twitter talking about whatever TV show is on that night. And I don’t even know the days for most of them. I know Constantine is Friday. Other than that, I know Gotham Monday. Then I’m at a loss since Scandal is on winter break.
I woke up stupidly early today. I mean really stupidly early. Before 5 am stupidly early. I was sitting at the desk just before 8:00 but didn’t buckle down until 9:30. I was lost on Pinterest. I typed the word “elven” into Pinterest and there were moments when I never thought the world would hear from again. But, eventually I got to work on the rewrites. Mind you, last night I got a tweet that someone found a bunch of typos in my Thirteen Lessons book – OF COURSE – because I copy edited and did revisions on that thing for longer than it took to write the rough draft. MONTHS! And there are still typos. I heard you can upload fixed copies to KDP but I’m not sure how or if that’s a priority. I don’t think it is at the moment. I want this novel done. I hate looking at my work after I release it into the wild. I don’t want to revisit it unless I really have to. I also have that noir short story that I started back in the summer and put aside for NaNoWriMo. So that’s there in the TBD files also.
Today I was productive and I’m wiped out. Like I said, stupid o’clock awake time. I think I’d like to fix a cocktail and read but I know once I look at pages of a book, my eyes will close. They practically are while typing this.
Count: 17 chapters to go
DEC 27 – The last couple of days I wasn’t feeling well and admittedly got through my waking hours with the help of half a pain pill each day. The problem hit last night when I was trying to read after dinner and fell asleep at 6:30pm. I’ve managed to proofread a decent amount. I’m pretty sure that’s because I hate proofing my own work and just want it to get done as quickly as possible. I’m tired of looking at it.
I also rediscovered a statistics part of Scrivener that I had forgotten about. It’s a helpful tool that would’ve been a nice shortcut while writing the manuscript. It shows total word count, word count of the “selection” which means the chapters I have toggled to be included in the compiling and not my notes, and estimated pages. Before, when I was curious about pages, I simply compiled to .PDF and tested it out.
I also have been utilizing the Scrivener split screen feature a lot during editing. I didn’t realize how helpful this would be. While I’m working on a chapter, I use the left side for that open document; the right side gets switched between character sheets, setting sheets, looking up other chapters, and notes – basically anything I need to turn to for research. I also use it to paste into when I come across where I described a setting or character. The far right side is usually the Inspector pane which I use the whole time but in the shot below, since I didn’t have a chapter open, the Inspector pane is not there.
What you see is the far left pane with my Binder – that’s the equivalent of a Windows Explorer tree of file folders and documents. The left in this shot is my Corkboard which shows the upper level of the chapters, descriptions for the outline of the key things in the chapters, and the status “First Draft.” The right pane is the Corkboard of characters which can be individually opened to see the details of the character sheets. As you can see in the screenshot, you can add images to the characters and settings. I love to cast my characters so I spend/waste hours searching for actors’ images. I even photoshopped the one of Molly Quinn to give her blonde hair because that’s what I envision as the character Dottie, young, lovable, carefree – but blonde.
The character templates aren’t the best but they’re enough to get me started. I just don’t like how the tabs and alignment of the sections are and I’m not sure how to modify templates yet. I’m sure that you can. Also, in the image below, I blurred out the details because I’m kind of a bitch. I’ve been advised by many people to hold story ideas close to the vest. I don’t like to be that way at all because I like to discuss the work.
Count: 8 chapters to go
DEC 28 – I almost lost the entire day. Yesterday I took the only medicine powerful enough for my pain that I have in my medicine cabinet and it knocked me out for about 16 hours. I didn’t get to my desk until after noon today. I’m not getting dressed and wearing what I slept in. Screw it. I made a cup of coffee, ate a few Oreos and sat down at my project.
The chapter I worked on was pretty long compared to the others I had been through so far. It was over 5,000 words so I found a point where I felt it could be broken into two smaller chapters. The story at this point is moving along a lot faster, as it was when I wrote it. It’s where the protagonist is at her toughest challenge and the first key piece of evidence is found in her possession. Then I discovered the next two chapters could also be split to lighten the weight of the words and give a clear break. There were two scenes taking place in the same location at an event but the protagonist’s attention is divided distinctly from talking to one person then another. Then there were two separate locations in the same chapter which I felt were better off split apart since the word count varied so drastically.
Count: 4-5 chapters to go (I suspect another long one will be broken into two)
DEC-29 It’s Monday and I wasn’t sure how I’d be feeling today. I was anxious to get to my project because I was so close to being finished with the first phase of revisions. I did it. I completed my copy editing as well as I could possibly do on my words. It’s time to pass the files along to people who can give fresh eyes to it. Based on the calculations within Scrivener, it clocks in at 86,000 words and 247 pages which is absolutely perfect for where I wanted it to end up (in .PDF with 1.5 line spaces that comes to 261 pages).
CONCERNS AND WORRIES
- Is my plot refined?
- Do the sentences make sense or get repetitive?
- Will readers care about the mostly female cast of characters?
- Do all the characters serve a purpose?
- Will my occasional foul language rule it out as a cozy but not be brutal or graphic enough for modern noir leaving it awkwardly out of place?
- Do I satisfy the readers with the promises made (that there’s a murder to solve, relationships to navigate, characters to care about)?
- Are my explanations about the protagonist’s job too superfluous?
- Was it funny enough?
I know of one person that offered to proofread it further so I’ll be messaging her momentarily. I’ll also shoot a copy over to my BFF since he promised he’d read it. I’ll ask around to see if anyone else I trust is willing to devote time to it, but I know that’s asking a tremendous amount. If someone takes an hour or two a night to read something when they could be with their kids, their own writing, or not normally the type to read cozy mysteries, I don’t know if it’s asking too much of them.
I have several possible titles but I’ve been calling this CARDIAC ARREST since it first popped into my head years ago after the first novel. I recently read that agents and publishers will come up with new titles and that you shouldn’t have your heart set on only one. Since I’m unrepresented at the moment, I think it’s fine to lean on one possible title more than others but here they are:
- Cardiac Arrest
- Massage de los Murder
- Halloween Heartbreak
All subtitled: A Farrah Wethers Mystery
I’ll take my bow now…. and go get something to eat.