Monday, June 15, 2015

MG Minded Talks - Revisions, Editing, and Critiquing

Welcome to another installment of MG Minded Talks! We will ask each of the bloggers a series of questions and they will share their responses. This month we are talking revisions, editing, and critiquing. Here's the questions:

1) How many drafts do you usually go through before you think it's ready for submission (agent, editor, querying etc.)

2) How do you know when your manuscript is "finished"?

3) What are your favorite kind of revisions?

Brooks B.
1) I generally edit as I write. Which makes for a longer draft time, but when I'm finished, it's generally ready for CPs or my agent.

2) That's tough, but when I feel like it has enough peak-and-valley moments with the conflict and the loose ends of the plot and subplot are tied up in a nice enough neat little bow, I can call it ready. If I don't then I'll continue to edit forever.

3) Ones where someone has a brilliant suggestion that adds more tension, raises the stakes even higher, causes more conflict. It's mean, but it makes for good story. J

Stacey T.
1) Totally depends on the book. If it's one I had a strong plot for and it came out well, it may not need much. I always at least do a big picture read through, fixing anything that doesn't seem right (might be a lot or might be just some tweaks) and then a more nitpicky copy/line edit and lastly I do some searches of words I over use. There are usually a lot of them!. Sometimes I realize new problem or a better fix later and have to go through the steps 1 and 2 over again. And again. Til it's finally right. So 3 minimum, max? Unlimited.

2) It's never finished! But usually when I'm excited about it and I've completed both steps 2 and 3.

3) I like the big picture read through. I like seeing it as a finished product and planning out what I can do to make it better.

Jamie K.
1) That really depends on the book, the feedback I get, and how frequently I start a new file, but I tend to average somewhere between 7-15. I always edit as I write so that helps make my "first" draft a little cleaner. After that, I usually have an alpha reader that checks for understanding and places where I might need more or less information on a micro level. Then I do a couple rounds myself, a full read through for continuity and flow, and an abused words cull where find replace with highlights words I tend to abuse or tend to make sentences weak. Then I send the manuscript off for various rounds of beta readers for a high level overview. Are the plot, characters, pacing etc working.

2) Well a manuscript is never really finished, but when I feel confident in the story and that I've addressed all the big issues readers have brought up then I feel the manuscript is ready.

3) The abused words cull. It's usually where I see the biggest transformation. The plot and characters don't usually change during that edit, but the writing really starts to shine.

Tom T.
1) I typically need to go through 3 or 4 drafts. I tend to write whatever is in my head at first, so it doesn't make the most sense in the first or second draft, and has pretty poor technical aspects. It's only when I get to my 3rd or 4th draft that everything is really fleshed out.

2) Honestly frown emoticon mine is never finished. I always feel like there is something I could change, or tweak, but I think it's finished once my head is about to explode looking at it. If I find myself changing the same area over and over again, it's typically me just OVER-editing.

3) The revisions where it changes the whole flow of my story for the better and triggers that flag in my head that goes "I LOVE THIS STORY"

Jason R.
1) Usually 4 drafts. After the initial draft of word vomiting, the 2nd draft is to fix macro plot/character stuff. The 3rd is copy editing, language tightening, adverb hacking, etc, Then beta readers get it, and draft 4 includes their feedback. Then it goes to my agent.

2) For now, it's mostly finished for me when it goes on submission, but even then, changes will likely still be necessary down the road before it's published

3) My favorite revision is the draft after my beta readers read it. Their feedback helps me bring the characters more fully to life on the page to better match what's in my head.

Dan K.
1) 3 or 4 drafts. First draft is me telling myself the story. Second draft is me trying to figure out how to tell that story to other people. Three is to make sure it's not a piece of crap. If I still need another, then four is to make sure each word counts.

2) My manuscript is finished after 3 or 4 drafts and particularly, after that draft where I've made sure each word counts. Now, I think I know myself pretty well and believe me, this is just me talking but I know that my 15th draft is not going to be much better than my 4th draft. So, for me, If I can't have a pretty compelling story by my 3rd or 4th draft, I'm in trouble. It's also worth noting that I'm not in the business of trying to win Newberry awards. I just want to make kids laugh and let them have fun for a bit. I stay focused on that.

3) Favorite kind? I don't have any favorite kind but I'll tell you the two most important kinds of revisions I do. Number one is the revision where I go through and look for places where "nothing is happening". I do that sometimes. Just have people talking so I can have some funny dialogue. Problem is, stuff has to keep moving forward. So, sometimes I need to just look for these lull spots and cut them, change them, fix them. The second most important kind of revision I do is when I go through and make sure each character is really speaking and acting according to their own unique voice.

Tom M.
1) I do a lot of editing as I write. After I finish an entire draft I'll go back and give it a second look to see what doesn't work, and after that it'll be ready for my agent. She's fairly editorial, so I know after she reads it I'm going to get some great notes from her. 

2) The manuscript is finished when I start circling back on revision ideas instead of pushing them forward, because there's nowhere else to go. And, of course, when printed, published copies exist.

3) I feel like a suck-up saying this, but I LOVE getting agent notes. She tells me what's working and if I need to develop it more, and she'll point out different ideas or approaches for things that might not have occurred to me on my own, which will push me in exciting new directions.

1 comment:

  1. These comments fit my general experience, also. I do my best not to re-read my published stuff, though. You can't fix it anymore, so move on. At a certain point the words LET GO are a saving grace.