This past weekend, I wrote it: The End. Writing those two words makes me do back-handsprings and air-splits and handstands underwater. Well, it makes me want to do those things. (I have coordination issues.)
So instead, I settled for a frosty beverage and some Cheez-Its. Then I looked over my manuscript and realized two things:
1. It needs major revisions.
2. It kind of sucks.
Usually, a revelation like that would cause me to dig deeper into a box of Cheez-Its and pour another frosty beverage, but I finally figured out how to handle the revision part of this book. This is a totally new idea for me, so we’ll see if it works.
But first, let me share a wee bit of backstory (it’s very wee, I promise!). I came across a summary of the SCBWI Washington conference on someone’s blog and saw that an editor there had spoken on the topics of Plot, Theme, Character and Voice. Which, to me, sounded like a speech about Everything. But then I realized that those topics, in that order, are the layers of revisions I need to do!
First, I’ll go through and revise only for plot. I’ll make sure the main character gets from A to Z, and that the manner in which she gets from A to Z makes perfect sense. I’ll also make sure that the car which was lime green in chapter 1 is still lime green in chapter 24.
Second, I’ll go through and look just at theme. Now that I have a newly buffed and shiny plot, did my idea of ‘xyz’ (whatever that ends up being) come across as I wanted it to? Is it too subtle or way too heavy handed?
Third, I’ll go through and revise for character. I’m not sure what the editor was referring to in his speech, but for me, revising for character means I’ll look at all the other people in my main character’s life. I’ll try to make them well-rounded and avoid stereotypes. I might look at subplots and see if I can strengthen their stories. I want the people in her world to be as interesting as possible (but not annoyingly quirky) and deliver only some of the best punch lines.
And finally, I’ll go through and revise for voice. Now that my main character is propelling her way through a decent-ish plot, she has an interesting theme to wade through, and the characters around her are freakishly real (hopefully)…what the heck would she say and how would she say it!?!?
I’m not going to kid myself…all of this revision is going to take a long time.
So! My plan—for now—is that once I get to the voice-round of revision, I’m going to check myself into a lovely bed and breakfast and just focus on my main character and her words. I’ll only think about how she would react to each moment and just become her. I think I can do that if I’m away from my own world and don’t have to get up from my computer every five minutes to help my son clean up the Life cereal he dumped on himself (which is what I’ve been doing while writing this post).
This is a new way of approaching a novel for me, so let’s hope it works. And if it doesn’t? I’m moving on to the hard stuff…a good bottle of Pinot Noir and Rainbow Goldfish.