Monday, January 16, 2012
The First Read Through
So besides "The Wait," the only other piece of revision advice I've been given is to read my draft through from start to beginning without revising anything. Just a straight read through.
This is harder than it sounds.
If you're like me, you're itching to start throwing yourself into revision. To take out this scene and that scene and rewrite this scene...
Let me step back just for a moment. This particular manuscript I wrote entirely without an outline. Up until now, I'd only written lengthy pieces with at least a basic outline so I never got stuck and always knew where it was going. But November '11 was fast approaching and I had this concept and no time to develop it because I was planning my wedding.
So I barreled straight into November armed with my idea and just started writing. For me, this has worked better than any outline I could have come up with. Thus, when I started writing, I had no idea where it was going to end, or looking back, who the main character was.
This could be why the "Read Through" was particularly helpful to me as a first step. Even though it hadn't been more than a few weeks, I'd completely forgotten whole chunks of my book. Scenes, characters, great lines, major plot points. I have no memory of even writing them. Some of them will be useful, some I'll probably lose.
Still, for the first time, I was able to look at the draft as a whole. The Read Through allowed to figure out my next step to finishing this manuscript.
Unfortunately, it's not rewriting - yet. It's outlining.
Now that I know where I want the story to go, and the basics of how it gets there, I know that I need to change some events that don't work any more. Like the whole first 30 pages, or the role of some characters. Or a bit of foreshadowing that could be in the very first scene.
But I will admit, that during my read through, I didn't just read. I went ahead and x-ed out passages I knew couldn't be saved, or at least didn't need to be there. I highlighted lines that made me giggle, or that I had forgotten but were particularly good. I made notes about how to revamped scenes or add some detail that would become relevant later, even redesign a character or subplot - but I only made notes in the margins or on the back to the page. I didn't write anything new.
So I did do the whole read through, and I think, for the first time, this could be the first big step towards actually getting through the revision process. I also realized that this won't be my only read through.
Read throughs are an important tool for revision because it let's me look at the big picture. I've never been able to do a read through before, which could be because of a combination of factors, but, it could be that the story wasn't interesting enough to keep my interest. Maybe it's a good thing I've shelved my other projects because if I found them boring, then I'm sure others will. It could have been the first sign that they weren't drafts that needed to be revised.
Or it could be my other theory - that I'm terrible at beginnings.
But, if I could go back and change something about doing the first read through, it would be to take notes about what happened in each chapter. This would make the next step I need, outlining, so much easier...