Monday, February 22, 2010

Novel Revisions Survival



No one should ever have to read a sentence twice because of the way it is put together. 
— Wilson Follett


No matter how clean I think my manuscript is after revisions and edits, I am almost certain to find some dirty little dust bunnies hiding in there just by doing this one thing: Read it aloud. 
It works every time. 
Yeah, it takes a long time. But it will be worth it. 
It amazes me how many silly errors and echoes I find this way, when I was so sure I had them all culled. 
Most importantly, I find that a sentence or passage I was once enamored with is actually clunky; perhaps unintended alliteration, or trying too hard. Reading it aloud is my writing dirt devil, my best tool to polish my MS to a sparkling shine.


I want to give my CPs and beta readers as clean and pretty a draft as I am able.  
This equates to a lot of time rewriting, sitting, hunched over the laptop, looking at the damn WIP again, cursing myself for not being brilliant enough to get it right before my thighs spread to Kentucky and my back shapes me into something that should be perched atop Notre Dame. 


When I'm feeling knee deep in feces during yet another round of revisions, this always cheers me up:


"I write one page of masterpiece to ninetyone
 pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F.
Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”


Remember, Hemingway rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times, I tell myself. 


When all else fails I eat some Doritos and drink more coffee. 
Write on.
Lola

8 comments:

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

Reading out loud is my greatest tool and mortal enemy.

I am so excited for you though that you are almost ready to give your WIP to beta readers. Yay!

Kazzy said...

What genre do you write in? I think reading your writing aloud is a great idea to check for fluidity. Have you ever doing a voice recording for your writing ideas while you are exercising or enjoying a bubble bath? :)

Marla said...

Love this, Lola!

orchidsinbuttonholes said...

I love this post! I get very caught up in daydreaming or project undertaking whenever the WIP feels daunting. Consequently, it's rarely a good thing for me and my characters when my house is super clean. I agree with you that reading out loud helps so much!

Good luck with revision!

Icy @ Individual Chic said...

I still haven't done the read out loud yet. I'm going to finish slotting in the missing bits and then do that. I started, and, then, well, you know how it goes.

God, I may need another whole draft to go through before giving it to a beta.

La Belette Rouge said...

That Hemingway quote is one I use a lot when I am trying to encourage new writing friends to write a shitty first draft.
And like you, I always read aloud to edit. That is the only way if I know it sounds right.

Happy editing!( That may be an oxymoron;-).

Lisa said...

I found myself reading a couple of job application cover letters aloud today and realize that this has become a habit.

I've read aloud my own story so many times now that I'm sick of it. I'm like you, though. I'm not ready to hand it off to readers until I feel like I've polished it. And polished it some more.

Lola Sharp said...

Kazzy-- literary fiction...however this one has a bit of a suspense/thriller/mystery edge to it. Which is a first for me, and unintended...but where the characters insisted we go. Much more difficult working the plots. I'm pulling my hair out.

May your pen be mighty

May your pen be mighty

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Lola Sharp
My name is Lola. (I'm not a showgirl) Yes, L-O-L-A Lola. It's the least of my worries. Let's move on, shall we? This blog is mostly about my misadventures on the journey to publication and beyond. My passion for lush prose, quirky characters, art, music, literature, performing arts and anything creative will be a major theme here. This journey of mine will not always be pretty. Much like rubbernecking a train wreck, I know sometimes you just can't help but look at the carnage that is often my life. So strap on your neck brace, helmet and 5-point harness and come along for the ride! Licentia poetica.
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