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Tip Tuesday #79

Hello all! Casey here. Thank you for welcoming Natalie to Literary Rambles yesterday. If you didn't catch the news about my fabulous new blog partner, check out this post. Today, I have a wonderful and fun tip from Christine Tyler with poetry by her critique partner, Jeigh Meredith. Please visit their blogs on the way out. They both blog fairly regularly about writing. If you'd like to read another tip by Christine, she was #73 a few weeks ago.

Here's Christine:

Revisions can be nasty. In my head, this sounds a lot like "moose bites can be nasty" from Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail. I've therefore determined, Revisions are just as nasty as Moose bites. Sometimes it is in our best interest to do the painstaking work of copy-editing our work piece-by-piece. Other times, and most times, we're going to work on large-scale revisions, such as a second draft in which our focus is still on the expression of entire events. Essentially, we're rewriting scenes.

So here are my suggestions for a virtually pain-free revision process:

Print your rough draft. Read it over several times. Highlight what you love about it, or talk about it with your critique partner. Print, and then read over the revisions your CPs have sent you. Pay special attention to what they mention works. You can't skip this step. You'll just have two versions of the same problems. Critique first.

Make sure you like the first sentence, open up a blank document, and type this sentence. Then, put your rough draft and revisions face down on your desk. Close your eyes, and think of those phrases and descriptions that worked. You might be surprised how much you remember. You may even realize there are specific sentences you can recall word-for-word. Type up the scene building up to those golden bits. Everything else is fluid and flows around them.

This is not just a plain "rewrite" this is a "re-vision." Literally.

This is a fantastic technique for cutting out deadwood and shortening a scene. You'll end up with all your favorite parts, while still maintaining your stream-of-consciousness. In my experience, going back and nitpicking piece-by-piece on my rough draft, looking back and forth from my paper to screen, leads to a lot of choppy ideas. The closer I look at it, the more I lose the big picture. It took me a little while to realize: I have the big picture in my head. Now that I've written it once, I have my key-phrases in my head. I know how to write this, and given the chance, I could write it better. So I do.

Just kind of a funny detail, this is the "poem" my CP (Jeigh Meredith) sent me. I thought she explained why this is useful rather well :)

Whilst doing my mound
of neverending dishes tonight
and bemoaning the fact
that my book is sucking
a dozen eggs,
I remembered wise words
from a wise friend,
namely Christine Tyler,
who said
(among other things)
"Blah blah blah,
rewriting the chapter
without looking and
the good parts
come back to me
and the rest
falls away."

So here I sit,
rewriting without looking,
and my fingers fly,
because it's easier to make
all new words than to mix
new words with
old dumbface words.

Bless you.
And your face.
And your brain.


Matthew MacNish said...

Excellent advice. I'm actually in the midst of this right now. Thanks ladies!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tip. Thanks. I hope it's really painless. I could use some of that.

Lisa Nowak said...

This is an interesting technique. Thanks for sharing it.

Jeigh said...

Just so everyone knows, I was slightly stressed when I wrote that poem :) Hahaha! Thanks for the shout-out, Christine and Casey. And this is a really great tip.

Christine Tyler said...

Thanks for posting the tip, Casey! I wouldn't recommend using this technique every single time you revise (you'd be re-visioning until the cows come home), but most certainly when you're revising and feeling a lot of static or choppiness. Hope others find this useful!

Beth said...

The tips keep coming! It's amazing how much advice the writing community has to offer one another.

Sarah Allen said...

Thanks for the awesome tip :) Very useful.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Steve MC said...

This is something I learned just a few months back (and wish I'd learned a long time ago) when Maggie Stiefvater posted about how she does her revisions - just tosses out full chapters and starts over from scratch, even if it's just to change the mood.

It really surprised me, but after thinking about it, it made total sense, so thanks for the reminder.

S. A. Soule, Creativity Coach said...

Interesting post. Writers have so many unique and different ways to edit. We can all learn from each other. :-)

Crystal Collier said...

^^^ Absolutely! I really appreciate the bit about staying positive--focusing on the good before pulling apart the seams.

Theresa Milstein said...

Rewrite vs. re-vision - I like that!

Julie Musil said...

Ooooh, I've never heard this tip before. Thanks! And the poem was awesome :D