Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guest Post: Author Vanna Smythe Talks Revision

Please welcome fantasy author Vanna Smythe as she shares her thoughts on the revision process.

The Revision Part of My Writing Process
By Vanna Smythe

Roger has been kind enough to offer me a guest post spot on his blog today. He asked me to write on the topic of my writing process. Since I just finished the final revision of my second novel Decision Maker (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 2), I thought I’d share with you my revision methods.

First, let me say that I am a seat-of-the-pants writer, meaning I don’t have a great love for outlines and planning before I start writing.  In fact, what I would do with stories and novels before I started writing this one is just jot down a few notes on who my main characters are, what the world is, and what the conflict is, then I’d start writing. And rarely look at the outline again. In other words, I’m very good at sticking to a plotline, not veering off my intended storyline, or characterization.  I’m also very good at writing a complete first draft in a month or less.

I am, however, really bad at revision.

I had my first novel, Protector (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 1) written for over a year, before I finally started revising. It took me another year and a half to get it ready for publication.  But I’m happy to say that Decision Maker only took me 6 months to complete, and here is the revision process I worked through to get there:

1) First I read through the first draft and analyze my worldbuilding, characterization, plotline development, and so on. I note down all the places where more information, or better development is needed, but I don’t fix anything on the manuscript yet.

2) After this, I outline each chapter I want to keep, and also write down all the ones that are still missing.  I try to make this outline as brief and concise as possible, and have it contain fixes for all the problems I uncovered in Step 1.  Character motivation, shocking developments in the story, worldbuilding expansions all go into this outline.

3) Then, based on the outline, I start to rewrite the book chapter by chapter.

4) After the second draft is done, I send it off to my beta readers for feedback.  At the same time, I also read through it again, just noting down all the things I still have to change.  Once I get the reader comments back, I start the final revision. After I finish each chapter, I have my computer voice Alex (I’m on a Mac) read the text back to me.  Having someone, even a computer voice read your book to you is an awesome editing tool. It helps you spot typos, but also shows you, which sentences need to be rewritten for better readability.

5) The final step is another read-through using my computer’s text-to-speech program. During this step, I’m only concentrating on the flow of language, punctuation, word choices,...

So that’s how I revise nowadays.  I hope my process has given you some ideas.

Vanna Smythe
Vanna Smythe - Fantasy Author
Twitter: @Vanna_Smythe
Facebook: www.facebook.com/VannaSmytheAuthor
Protector (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 1): http://amzn.to/xLusPP

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Thanks, Vanna! I'm more of an outliner than a "pantser" (allowing myself to deviate from the outline when I make discoveries along the way) but I know a lot of folks do it your way and I appreciate you taking the time to share your revision process with us. 

Have a sure-fire revision tip or technique? I, for one, am always open to learning better ways to do things. Feel free to enlighten us in the comments.
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