Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Three H of Revision


Working on the second draft of a new novel, I encounter the three H.
(No, not Horrible,L Hairy,L or Hilarious.J)
Mine are HEADY, HUMBLING, and HUMILIATING.



Stephen King, in his book On Writing, recommends a long break between drafts. This is so the writer loses the memory of the exact phrasing. Although she remembers the general plot and subplot, she encounters the writing as if she is the reader. This allows the distance needed for effective revising. Mr. King takes a minimum of six weeks in between drafts.


My novels are shorter than his and my breaks have always been shorter, too. But this time I managed a few months’ break because of important family events, a revision request to a different manuscript, and various life intrusions.


Turns out a longer break is a good idea, because I really don’t recall any of the sentences I find myself going over. No mental lapse here (I think)— just the right distance where I get to be surprised at a turn of phrase or the use of a word.

And this is where the three H come in.

Heady— because some of it is downright good.
Humbling— because some of the sentences do not have the eloquence I intended.
Humiliating— because of these...these... blasted typos (!!!!!!!!!)

That’s where I am, in a nutshell. Remind me to never go back to recheck casual posts and Emails. I’m likely to stop writing those altogether, lest I can have a couple of months to revisit and revise.

13 comments:

  1. Well, you're certainly not by yourself. In the last few years, I've found myself making increasingly numerous typos and mistakes in what I write. Somehow my mind sends messages to my fingers to type or write totally different words than I intend, to leave out important words like 'not' (yikes!), to leave endings off words, and to substitute a word for its homophone (when I've always known the difference). You're right, it's embarrassing and humbling. But one thing it's done for me is to make me much more tolerant and sympathetic toward other people's mistakes (which I guess is not a bad thing).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an excellent point, just the sort you'd raise.
      Let it make me more tolerant of others' imperfections, amen.

      Delete
  2. I like to forget what I wrote. It really does help the revision process. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this time I really don't recall my phrasing. Mr. King was right.

      Delete
  3. What gets me is those times when I think of a great line or idea to add to my manuscript but upon rereading, I discover the exact wording is already there. Head slap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. I was noting this very thing during yesterday's revision session, Marcia. Twice!

      Delete
  4. I agree Mirka, so important to have enough distance so that you can truly re-vision the story. Good luck!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same to you, sister :)
      Doing what I can.

      Delete
  5. Yes, I agree. LONG drawls in-between revisions definitely helps. And I seem to have a bad memory so I'm able to come back with fresh eyes. hehe

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice explanation from Mr. King of the purpose of such a vacation from a manuscript. I always wish I could read my stuff as though I'd never seen it before, but it doesn't seem to matter how much time I'm away from it, it always seems familiar - possibly because every day I sit down to work, I start from the beginning most times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is what you get for being so through and conscientious, Jan :D

      Delete
    2. "Thorough"^, not "through"--
      The TYPOS, grrrrr....See what I mean?

      Delete