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Revision Hell – Day One

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

I was hoping to get through my entire planning stage last night – each scene of the story documented in a notecard — but it just didn’t happen. Too much drama on the home front. So today I’ll get as far as I can on revisions, and go back and forth with smoothing/fixing to reading ahead and documenting the rest of the story.

Notecards are important for me, although I still haven’t found the perfect way to handle a story yet. Color is highly important when I’m putting a story together, and notecards in the right colors are difficult if not impossible to find. This story actually works pretty well with the neon orange, green, and yellow standard cards since it’s Mayan. These colors would NOT work at all for the Blood and Shadows world (black, red, white). For those stories, I use white notecards and switch back and forth between colored pens. A pain, but it worked enough. The colored cards make it much easier to see the balance of story without flipping through to see the color of ink I used.

Why is this painful process necessary? For me, I need to SEE the story complete in my head like a plotted-out graph or equation. Going back to my numerical analysis background, I don’t like a plot point to deviate too far off the curve (Story) I’m approximating (writing). Maybe that point should be tossed entirely and a better approximation written instead. I also need symmetry and balance, so when I have too many orange cards (Jaid’s POV) in a row, it screams to me that I need a green one (Ruin’s POV) in between. The physical cards and colors help me see the symmetry and shape of the story I’m building in a way that a flat file cannot.

I’ve also been making notes of things to fix as I go, mostly a failure to give the story a strong sense of PLACE. Once the characters converge in my made-up ruin, my setting takes over (because it’s MINE), but up until then, the story could take place anywhere, in any season. Not good. So I’ll definitely work on that in this pass. I chose Texas as the starting point because I’ve lived there. I might as well make use of my memories, even though only a chapter or two actually take place in Texas. (Austin specifically, and we never lived there, but I think I can make it work.)

I’ll update throughout the day with my progress.

  • Fixed the setting, sense of place/time/season in chapter 2 with a little paragraph. 64 very important words. ;-)
  • Cut 180 words from the beginning of chapter 4 – I need to insert a scene in Ruin’s POV instead.
  • New 448 word scene in Ruin’s POV to kick off Chapter 4.
  • 807 words in Jaid’s POV.

Today’s goal wasn’t met but I got off to a decent start. Hoping for better tomorrow.

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