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.
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?