PitchWars: On revisions

One would think, having spent my career in journalism, I’d be used to the revision process. Literally I spend my days making notes on other writers’ work, or having my own work marked up in red pen.

Revising one’s novel is a whole different ball of wax.

CALLBACK is on version 10. While the main characters and storyline has stayed the same, I’ve killed off ancillary characters, eliminated several thousand words of backstory, added some sex, changed the romantic subplot and tweaked the storyline around the antagonist. But one of the reasons I’m so excited to be working with Laura is I had gotten stuck on what else needed to be done.

At first, I saw the homework she gave me – such as using Wordle and making a scene map – and was like, “ugh, this is so hard, it’s so organized.” And you know what? Scene maps are genius! Laura is brilliant! Scene maps make you establish the point of each scene, conversation and where it’s taking the story. (Creating a word cloud, which I may have described originally as seeming “hippie dippie” was quick, and helpful – it let me know which words I was overusing).

Creating a scene map, at least for me, has taken hours, in no small part because you realize your chapters are way too varied in length, or the first third isn’t moving fast enough, or you start to become a mess of doubt while you move through it.

For this book, I was a “pantser.” I had a story I wanted to tell and I kept doing it chapter by chapter until it was done, and then did mass amounts of editing. For the next book, I have seen the light: Outlines, scene maps and organization, here I come.