Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Revision Series - Part 4: The To-Do List and My Unending Love of Track Changes

So, I finished my first pass of my revisions. From Chapter 1 to the Epilogue, with only a few pitstops along the way to make major repairs.

Now, I had 23 documents from one beta reader, at least that many chat transcripts from the other, and dozens of e-mails that had flown back and forth between us. It was time to dig in
for that all important next draft.

Here, I made a mistake--I should have been working on my chapter-by-chapter To Do list all along. I did have an overall To Do list that I'd started amassing somewhere around Chapter 7, but it was a lot of work to go back through all those e-mails and chat transcripts (sidenote: Gmail has saved my ass on more than one occasion, and this was just another. Google, consider me yours.)

In the end, I had a To Do list that looked something like this:

And I started back at the beginning again ("In the beginning, there was Chapter 1...") with my beautiful, beautiful Track Changes notes, courtesy of the eagle-eyed J.A. Souders. When it was a good chapter, it was seas of white with a few helpful notes in the margin.

When it needed help, it looked more like this:

And believe me, I needed everyone of those notes.

Did I make every change they suggested? No. But I considered each one. If you want to read more about my thoughts on the suggestions that come from betareaders (a.k.a. Critique Partners), go here.

And soon enough, I had a final draft ready for the big time.

I think.

Coming up, we talk the nitty-gritties of Querying and Synopsizing. Did you just feel your breakfast urp into your throat? Yeah, me, too. Don't worry, we can do this.

Before that, though, I think I'll go into a bit more detail about Word's Track Changes and do the happy dance about Scrivener. We all cool with that? Excellent.

- Liz


Stephanie McGee said...

A rolling to-do list is always helpful. On my last novel I used track changes extensively to denote places where things weren't working, etc. while I read through the book. Had I continued with revisions on that, I would have then gone note by note to fix things and rework what failed.

This is a fun and informative series. Thanks for sharing.

jasouders said...

Hey I'm useful enough I'm in a blog post. LOL. I'm loving these posts, Liz. They're spot on and really make me go, Okay, Jess, get your but in gear. Liz did a complete rewrite. You can rearrange a few chapters. :D

Kristan said...

Yep, we're cool with that. I definitely want to hear more about Scrivener. I still can't figure out why I'm the only one I know who doesn't love it...

Eleven Eleven said...

You're motivating me, too. Yay revisions!

I've got a big picture to-do list that trickles down into chapterly to-do lists. I like to stuff those in the right side bar of my chapters in Scrivener. Can't wait for you to laud that software so I can chime in with my own little cheer.

Jill Kemerer said...

How did writers accomplish anything before word processors??

Congrats on getting the ms all polished!

Have a great weekend!