These Are the Tools

Revision Tools; Manuscript, sticky notes, ink penThese are the tools. They look really old-fashioned. No Track Comments, interactive spreadsheets, no Google Doc file, just a paper manuscript, a bunch of stickies and an ink pen. Missing from the photo is a new spiral notebook that I will have to get, to write in when I run out of room down the margins/on the back of the pages as I’m revising.

That’s just how I roll.

That flurry of pink pennants along the side? Those are chapter markers. Chapters are a bane in the first draft, and even when I list them in a separate document and go back and check, I somehow always manage to mis-number the chapters. This book was no exception. I also worry that the chapters aren’t terribly even, although I try to let the flow of the story dictate that. Basically, they run 10-15 pages; one or two run to nearly 20. I won’t know ‘til I read the whole thing whether that works, which is one reason for the cute little pink flags.

(Until I read the whole thing…. Arrrrgh.)

There are three flags at the top, which mark the parts of the book. These are wildly uneven in terms of page count and I don’t really care. The break by “part” or “section” is thematically linked. Each part has a title. They are:

–Shelter in Place
–Count to a Hundred
–Try Your Luck

I knew I had a reason for picking those when I did it, but back then it seemed to be because they sounded cool. Now, in retrospect, I hope what they reflect is my main character’s emotional journey through the book.

Also not pictured of course is the document where I’ve listed many, many notes about things that have to be in there or have to be moved, or have to be explained. Did I mention there were many?

So, the rest of April and early May is given to a complete read. I can’t say re-read, because I’ve never actually read it. I’ve certainly read parts of it. I have no idea what it’s like. Anyway, the plan is: Do a complete read and a “patch” revision where I try to fix the bigger, obvious, more gaping plots holes, character vacuums, world-building questions and pacing problems. Then my writers group gets it.

And then this whole process starts all over.

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