I’m still working on the Song revision pass, and part of that is making a plan to guide and track those revisions.
Last year I had a good plan for revising Livia, but I didn’t take any notes on how I compiled it. This blog post, therefore, is in part here to act as a reminder for me of how to make a plan to follow.
- collect all the notes you have. These could come from several places:
- inline manuscript comments – when I am writing, I often embed remarks about the text I’m writing in square brackets.
- typo review comments – the initial review pass reveals many other things I need to address, scribbled in red pen on the page.
- reader comments – if the book has been out to readers, they may have feedback to draw on
- additional review comments – I will often do another review pass after the typo corrections because I find it easier to think about the structure and other elements of the story if the text errors aren’t getting in the way any more.*
For Livia I had all of these sources to draw from, although for Song right now I only have the inline and typo review comments.
- sort the comments into buckets. This allows similar things to be worked on at the same time, but also helps flag any larger problems: if you see lots of notes about people knowing things at the wrong time, then you may have a timeline problem you need to fix.
There are lots of ways to organise these: by character, by location, by artifact. My initial buckets are by level of detail:
- structural – things about the way the story is told overall
- detail – specifics about one scene or character
- copy – issues with the precise text
For Song, there are some serious timeline issues to deal with, so I am going to figure that stuff out before doing another structural review.
- group and combine similar items
- work through all of them – tick them off as you go, track how many you’ve fixed and how many are left
- don’t be afraid to add more – you’ll find more issues as you are fixing other things so keep adding items in the proper place. Similarly, I mentioned various ways to sort the items earlier and it can be a good idea to rearrange them in different ways.
That’s what I do, anyway. How do you organise your revision?
[*] I really struggle to see past typos in my own writing, which is why I am always unconvinced whenever I see the advice to leave fixing grammar and typos until the underlying structure of the book is solid. I really have to fix the typos so the content is visible to me.