nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘revision

Starting a new book 3

with 3 comments

So the first draft of my new Meniscus book is written. I have completed a Table to help me through revisions. Now I will do a series of scans to make certain the book is the best it can be.

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Revision 1: Refinements. I read through the draft, making edits and adjustments. This includes alterations to punctuation, alternative word selections, re-phrasing to refine the cadence, spelling, suiting of dialogue to character and so on. Of all the revision stages, this step takes the most time and effort.

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Revision 2. Continuity. Because my book is part of a series, I have to consider the action that occurs in previous books and in books-yet-to-come. I have thought through and written drafts for each future story in the series, so I can ‘see into the future’ and include small set-ups for future actions. I also have to make certain settings, characters and actions are consistent with respect to previous books. For example, today I found a place where a character with three brothers has only two in a past story. I also like repetition in series I read, so I have certain things I mention in every book: the scar on Odymn’s forehead, the moons, the tattoos on the Dock-winder’s necks, and so on. I keep a checklist of these in a writing compendium for the series.

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Revision 3. Conflict. Using my Table, I make sure each chapter includes a conflict. This could be an internal conflict, played out in the thoughts and actions of a single character, a conflict between two or more characters, or a conflict between character and setting (for example, a character wakes in a dangerous setting where breathing is difficult). I summarize each conflict in my Table.

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Revision 4. Change. I want each of my characters, major and minor, to have a want and a need, and show change during the book. For example, Odymn wants to return to her home on Earth, but to be happy, she needs to make a home for herself, even on an alien planet. By the end of the book, she will realize she will never return to Earth, but that home is where you find those you love.

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Revisions take time. The re-reading can make a writer bored with his/her own ideas. But every revision pays its own way in terms of improving the story for both the writer and reader.

After revisions, editing remains to be done. This includes conceptual, structural, substantive and line edits.

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Hoping you are making progress with your own writing,

and staying safe,

Jane (a.k.a. Alexandra)

Written by jane tims

December 10, 2020 at 7:00 am

revisions

with 10 comments

Yesterday was a very windy day.  Some leaves have survived the gusts of wind, but not many.  It has been a short drama of color this year, with only a few acts remaining.  The maples still have some leaves, the poplars are just turning yellow, and the oak is only now losing its green.

While the wind was blowing, I was at my desk, revising some of my poems.  It is my least favorite phase of writing poetry.  I love the beginning, the first ideas fluttering around in my head, and put to paper.  The page at this point is a confused mass of words and phrases, squiggles and arrows.  I like these ‘pen and paper’ revisions.  There is something about the hand-brain connection, so I write and rewrite quite liberally.  By the time I commit the poem to the computer screen, it has already had five or six revisions.  Once on the screen, I move things around a bit, but I print the page to do the finishing touches.

I am quite orderly about final revisions.

First, I work on what the poem is saying.  This is so difficult for me, because I tend to write descriptive poetry.  I have to challenge myself to add narrative, or clarify deeper meaning.  Sometimes the poem gets a new title at this stage.  Unfortunately, I am rarely happy with the results of this step in the revision process.

Next, I do the detailed revisions and for this, I have a checklist to follow (see ‘revision checklist for poetry’ under about)… I know my own work very well and I am prone to repeating words, using passive rather than active verbs, and using the singular when I should use the plural.   I ‘press’ on each word in the poem, to see if another word will add additional meaning, improve internal rhyme, or covey a more accurate image.  I count syllables … sometimes small changes will accentuate or create structure … sometimes there is little if any pattern to the poem.  Lately, I am paying a lot of attention to the ends of the lines, trying to decide why I end each line where I do.

Finally, I read the poem aloud.  This helps me to hear the words, and discover where the rhythm is off, and to know when to include smaller words like articles and when to let them go.  Reading aloud also helps me with ‘voice’.  I often shift from a child’s point of view to the technical and I have to be wary of leaving my audience in a state of confusion.

The next step in the revision process is more enjoyable.  To do some final polishing, I read my poems to an audience.  Sometimes this audience is a member of my family and I listen carefully to their suggestions.  I especially think about bits they may not like.  I also read my poems to the members of my two writing groups.  They offer excellent critique and usually I make some revisions afterward.

When is a poem complete?  Perhaps never.  I still work on poems published years ago.  I guess I agree with Oscar Wilde who said, “This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.”

If you write poetry, how much time do you spend on revision?  What process do you follow?

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revisions

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a violent October wind –

every tree bleeds red,

bends northward

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my books also lean

and the pencils in their holder

the colors in the hand-blown drinking glass

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purple lavender, scent of summer

the flowers now dry

braided with ribbon

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

October 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

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