First, I wanted to expound a little more on my revision process. It has complete relevance, because it's also how I read critically, and at the end of this post is the Pay It Forward With Partials! winner. So if you don't like how I'm probably going to
Okay, so revision layers. When I revise, I do it in steps. Stages. Layers.
1. Little stuff/Senses. This is tweaking the writing, the word choice, the flow, the voice, the style. This is moving one sentence up a bit and taking one out for clarity. This is not rewriting scenes. I make sure I know the weather and how that affects my character. I spice up the writing with smell, taste, and sound, not just sight and touch.
I make notes of where new scenes might go or how the weather might affect emotion or setting for later. I star them, I don't actually write them. The first layer is a clean up layer, basically erasing all the comment bubbles I left for myself in the drafting stage.
2. Character. Okay, I don't know, like really know, my MC until I'm done with the first draft. And sometimes not even then. So I devote an entire layer to developing character. Fleshing them out. Making them consistent in action/choice (unless their arc dictates otherwise). Bringing them to life. This takes way longer than the first layer, but it's one of the best layers, IMO.
I make notes of where new scenes might go, mostly backstory or flashbacks in this layer. (Yes, I said flashbacks. Deal with it.) I star them, I don't actually write them.
3. Emotions. I'm ridiculously flat at emotions. Most of the time, my first draft is emotionless. Going back in to get them right, to insert reactions and feelings, is something I do after I've written the whole book. Then I know my character (and I've done the character layer, so that helps too), and I can accurately portray how they'd be feeling in certain key situations. I'll admit that sometimes while I'm doing my character layer, that I work on the emotional layer too.
I make notes of where new scenes might go, again mostly backstory to set the character's emotional reactions in key scenes. I star them, I don't actually write them.
4. Setting. I'm notoriously bad about describing the setting. My CP's are always like, "I'm so confused here. Is she in the culvert or not?" So I make an entire layer just for setting purposes. Anywhere that someone was confused about where things are/were, etc. I take a deep look at. This goes for blocking too. Where are the doors? Who's in the room? I go through my entire MS just to make sure the setting is well, set. (Ha!)
I make no stars here. I simply write what needs to be written. I mean, I'm almost done, so it would be lame to star and then go fill in the stars. You know?
5. Plot. This is where the bulk of my rewriting comes in. All those stars I've made? Yeah, now something has to be done about them. I have to actually write the new scenes that are needed to fill in the plot holes I've created (or have always had) in my main plot, subplots, character arc, emotional journey, etc.
This is the same way I critique. I'm looking for little things, well-rounded characters, authentic reactions/emotions, just enough setting, and a plot to keep me reading.
I pretty much mark everything I think feels off, or isn't quite as strong as I think it could be in each of the 5 areas above.
So if you don't want me to do that, maybe you'll leave your prize unclaimed...
Because the winner of the 25-page critique is: Josh Hoyt!
Email me your 25 pages at your convenience. (elanajohnson(at)gmail(dot)com)
Do you revise in layers? What are you looking for when you revise?
Oh! And don't forget about the live WriteOnCon event tonight! Literary agent Stephen Barbara and his client, Leila Sales will be discussing amazing things! 9 PM EST. Be there or be there.