Saturday, August 21, 2010

Writing Update

I'm still not done with my fourth draft of Star Swans and Sarki, but I like where it's going. My actual deadline for finishing is the end of the month, but I'm supposed to be squeezing a picture book into this month too. The Story Queen dared me to write a picture book this summer, and I not only accepted the dare, I told her I'd submit or query it as well. Unfortunately, the two picture books I've started this summer haven't cooperated. It looks like I'm starting over from scratch.

Fortunately, my revision is going well. My manuscript is more than 5,000 words lighter (under 90k) than it was last week, and I've added thousands of new words: shiny conversations and scuffles (which means I've probably cut closer to 10k). At the moment, I'm working my way backwards through the story and trying to catch missing punctuation and inconsistencies. At least, that was my plan. I've found that revising backwards is also helping me catch superfluous words, sentences, and even paragraphs that flow well when I'm reading it frontwards. Once I'm done with my backwards revision, I'm going to read the whole thing out loud and fix whatever problems I have left. It should be perfect in a week or so, right?


Yes, I'm laughing at myself over my perfection issues, but that's a subject for another post. The reality: I'll send my fourth draft out to a few more readers, and then I'll revise again. Meanwhile, I have another novel I started earlier this summer that I'm excited to get back to (once I've written that perfect picture book) and another friend's manuscript to critique.

I've critiqued three since May. Critiquing other writers' work has helped me see problems that need to be fixed in my own, and reading critiques on my own work has helped even more. I don't always take their advice. Even when I do, it doesn't always work. For instance, I cut a character that one of my critters didn't like, chopped her right out of the story, but then I wrote her back in today. Her part is smaller, but it's necessary. On the other hand, I also revised a scene where the same critter felt my characters didn't react to a betrayal. I made them react and wow--I love what it did for my character development. She saw something important that I missed. Of course, changing that part meant I had to revise other parts as well, but it was worth the work. In both instances, my story is better for the changes I made because of her comments. I (heart) my critique partners.

hearts Pictures, Images and Photos

And I (heart) my blogging friends. Thanks for reading my rambley-scrambley writing update. Have you ever revised backwards or tried something different to catch mistakes?


  1. One of my previous drafts was such a mess that I rewrote the entire thing with by hand, revising that way. I went through about 6 pens. But it worked. I like it now, and so does the editor. I also review both on the computer and hard copies, alternating to catch things, as it seems to look different in the varying formats.

  2. Sounds like things are going well for you!

    At the conference I attended this summer one of the authors said that she re-types her manuscript for the first few drafts. She's re-typing it looking at the old one, with comments and stuff to help her, but I thought that was crazy! She said it helped her not be lazy about fixing things.

  3. Myrna, look at all you have done this summer! In my book, you have completed the dare! (You wrote a picture book ms, even if you didn't think it was least you did it!)

    I backwards revise sometimes, too. When my brain thinks it knows everything and starts to skim, then I know I have to shake things up a bit.


  4. It's s great to hear what goes on inside the mind of a writer. I am all new t this and find your blog very helpful!!

  5. Backward revising... now that sounds like a good idea. I just might have to do that with my one story.

  6. I love the idea of revising backward. I might have to write it into the revision outline I'm working on right now.

    Glad your revisions are going well, Myrna. I'm excited to see how STAR SWANS AND SARKI turns out.

  7. Thanks for sharing that, Karen. I write in a notebook sometimes too.

    Debbie, that sounds like a lot of work, but I remember reading that one of my favorite authors, Richard Peck, does that.

    Thanks, Shelley, but I still want to get the picture book finished, even if I have to give myself until September 21st. ;)

    Thanks, Googie. What a nice thing to say!

    I'm glad you like the idea, Nicole. I hope it works for you.

    Your chapter notes are the best, Krista. I'm still referring to them (obviously).

  8. I admire your perfection issues. I am currently reading a book where the author insists on writing "should of" instead of "should have." It's driving me nuts and kind of ruining the story. (That, and several other grammar/writing errors.)

  9. It's always nice to get some input from another pair of eyes (and another set of brains).

    I'm a bit perfectionistic, too.


  10. It is amazing the number of times redrafting can take to get it right.
    I hope you find redrafting a pleasure each time (I generally do).

  11. You never cease to amaze me, Myrna girl! You really are an incredible lady...always anxiously engaged in good causes!

    Thanks for being you.

  12. Hi Myrna,
    In my critique group we are lucky enough to have a published writer. About four months ago she was auditioning for a new series for girls. She asked us all to critique her submission and I suggested that she drowned her MC for a few days after a disobedience episode. Well, when she got the letter of rejection, they specifically listed that addition as one of the reasons for her rejection. I felt so bad. I think long and hard before making those type of suggestion anymore. Even though my critique friend agreed with the suggestion, I really wish I could take it back. I think I've learned that we all have to feel our stories and do what feels right.

  13. Fourth draft= wow! And the picture books. That's so great :) Now that I think about it, I frequently revise papers backwards...and forwards...again and again until all the superfluous words are gone and everything fits and sings. I can't imagine what it's like to go backwards with a bigger project, though. It sounds like it's working well for you :)

  14. You have been busy this summer, but it is all worth it, isn't it. I like Shelley's idea of revising backwards, I'm going to try that on one MS that's resting because I know it way too well to revise creatively.

  15. Yay for the writing update! I'm excited for Swans and Sarki and for the picture books. Shelley challenged me to finish Jedda, but that was easy and a cop out because I was so close. :o) You are braver than I am and up her challenge.

    We heart you too! Have a wonderful week!

  16. Wow, the end of the month is really only days away. Try not to get finger cramps.

  17. Thanks, Rorie. That makes me crazy.

    It is, Sue.

    Yes, Al, improving my text makes me happy.

    Thanks, Em!

    Shellie, I only take suggestions that I agree with on some level, and if I don't like what it does for my story, I'll change it again. Ultimately it's my story and my responsibility.

  18. Sarah, I used to revise my papers in college backwards. That's why I wanted to try it with my novel. If you break it into chapters, it's not so bad. And it's working.

  19. I'm glad you found something helpful, Catherine.

    Thanks, Jackee! Your Jedda sounds fascinating.

    I know, Holly, but I'm getting there. :o)

  20. I hadn't heard of revising backwards, but maybe I'll try it. I agree that reading your friends manuscripts really helps you see what you may need to fix in your own.

  21. I have no particular method. I jump around a lot. This serves me best. If I went from page 1 to the end I'd go bonkers. I highlight the chapter heading in blue to keep trac of what I've read and edited before moving on to the next chapter, whatever it may be.

    Stephen Tremp

  22. Best of luck with your picture book. How exciting :o) I'm writing a non fiction picture book about certain insects as part of my writing course assignment for this month. I'm really enjoying it!

  23. It works for me, Jessie, but different tactics work for different people.

    Sometimes I jump around too, Stephen. If I get an idea, I can't wait to work on it, or I lose it.

    Thanks, Niki! Your picture book sounds like fun, and I'm glad you're enjoying your class!