What's been good about this is that it's forced me to be very focused about what I need to do. I don't have time to turn this rough draft into a real live finished book, all pretty and polished. I really only have time to get it to a point where I can hand it to my editors in a form that makes it clear what I'm trying to accomplish.
This meant finding the spine of the book and working on that to the exclusion of anything else. For folks that don't use the term spine, what I mean is the core of the book, the character or relationship or journey the book is most centrally concerned with. For me, this is the main character's arc and the arc of her one most significant relationship.
I would love to work on world building, or take the time to make that one secondary character's journey sing, or make the action scenes more varied and, you know, exciting, but right now none of that can be a priority, not until that spine is solid
While it can be maddening to see something that you know either isn't working, or could be soooo much better, and pass it by, I'm liking working this way and think I'd do it like this even if I wasn't on a time crunch.
One of the most dangerous things about approaching a rough draft is to see the amount of work that needs to be done and become overwhelmed. This can lead to paralysis or, as I saw alot when I taught writing, a tendency to get lost in the weeds of smaller changes.
If instead you narrow things down and focus on the most important points first to the exclusion of anything else it seems a bit more manageable.
Think of it like triage. In an emergency situation you deal with life threatening injuries first and then work your way down. Ask yourself what fixes your book needs to work on the most basic storytelling level. Focus on fixing those things and then move on, revising in layers.
(Oh and because I'm so revision obsessed right now, you can cruise on over to my personal blog if you want 5 more observations on revision. And hey, while you're there, become a follower, why don'tcha? )
How about you all? What's your process when approaching a rough draft? Any personal revision words of wisdom?
The Eleventh Plague
Coming from Scholastic, Fall 2011