Sunday, November 22, 2009

From the Obsessive Writer school of home decorating

Like I said last post, I've been working on my revision of OYMB. After much swearing and a lot of caffeine, I realized I needed to see the book laid out visually, so I got out my stack of 3x5" notecards, filled one out for every scene in the book, and strung them up over my workspace so I could move them around at will.

It's kind of a neat decorating effect. This is my workspace right now:

I think there's some cosmic rule that prevents me from having enough desk space no matter how many desks I have pushed together. This is two desks and a TV tray, and I still can't fit everything. It's a comfortable setup, at least, and since it's in the middle of my apartment, I'm actually using it. So's the dog - you can see his red blanket right where my feet are supposed to go. He curls up there while I'm writing, which is cute, if counter-productive.

I'm loving the notecards system. I did it for one previous revision, but that was a much less streamlined process, so it didn't last. This? Useful. Here's a typical card:

Upper left corner: the current chapter in which this scene exists (four, in this case). The blue text is a quick description of the scene (my protagonist being dragged out to a bar by a new ally). Green text below it is stuff I want to add or subtract from the scene (fiddle with the dramatic volume of the scene, include a theme of agency I've been wanting do do more with by having Seb bring it up, and make Sky a sneakier bastard). Entirely new scenes I want to add are all green and have no chapter numbers.

Not all the notecards are as easy to understand as that one. Some of them are so shorthand I'm the only person who knows what they mean.

And some of them are bad inside jokes that make Kiah think I'm a dork.

You can identify the point at which I started getting bored with re-reading and marking up the first draft, because the notecards start getting more shorthand and weird. Like so:

Badly drawn Mr. T. approves of most things I do. He's kind of a yes-man.

My revised plan for revision goes like this:
Stage 1: Notecards
Stage 2: Edits and rewrites of scenes
Stage 3: Cleanup and polishing

I just started Stage 2 and am on chapter 2/12.

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