Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Winners and some rambling on revisions

First, I have some winners to announce:

PJ, signed copies of Grimspace & Wanderlust
Kimberly B, her choice of any single book from the sidebar

Email me with your mailing info, ladies. It's ann.aguirre at

Now that's taken care of, I'm going to talk a little bit about where I am in my work. I've finished my final revisions on Doubleblind and it's back in my editor's hands again. That means I'm back to Killbox, working on getting it polished before my March 15 deadline. I have plenty of time, right? But here's the thing. It's harder to revise your own work than it might sound.

It took me a while to make the notes on what needed addressing. Sometimes I don't see the plotholes because I have the whole big picture in my head, so what looks like a totally dangling thread is something I'm actually going to pick up in book six. Sometimes I don't give enough details for this to be made clear, and my editor tells me what I need to rectify that. Doing that myself, before anyone else has seen it, is a bit hard, but I don't let anyone read my first drafts. I always do at least one round of revision before anyone gets to read my work. That includes my beta reader.

After a great deal of fretting and pondering, I've managed to make a list of things that need addressing in Killbox. There are six things on it. Unfortunately, once I know what needs fixing, I don't magically receive insight on how to best go about that. Do I need a whole new scene? A new chapter? Will a few lines be adequate to flesh it out better? Right now, I'm not sure. And sometimes I can't remember what I meant to do instead of what I did do, and I'll find a plot point that doesn't wholly make sense, but I know there's a reason for it. If I could just remember the motivation / setup, I would include that, and make sense of the whole thing as part of the larger story arc.

I do make notes as I write about aspects I think need work, but it can't be comprehensive. As you're writing a book, doing bits of it every day, you sometimes lose sight of the big picture. You're just focusing on today's puzzle pieces, and it's not until later, after it's done, that you begin to see the whole again. Turning a rough draft into a polished final can be a harrowing experience. What's your process for revisions? If you're a reader, not a writer, do you have any hobbies that require you to go back and fix what you've already done?


azteclady said...


As you know, I don't write, but I do have hobbies that often require that I go back and change or fix something. I do try to make a note of what needs done as I stumble on it but have to continue with what I am doing--my problem is that sometimes the notes get lost in the maelstrom of my life, so...

Not helpful, huh?


Angie Fox said...

I rely quite a bit on the "let it simmer" method. Like I finished that Mammoth Book story a few weeks ago, but I put it aside. When I go back next week, it'll be easier to see the flaws.

That and I do give early drafts to Jess Granger, who is brutal (in a good way). She'll question everything. And a lot of times, I do know why something is there but she helps me decide if and when the reader needs to know more at that particular point in the story. Sometimes, it's more juicy to reveal things later and other times, you need to give all the info up front. It really is a balancing act.

Erica said...

First I want to say I heart this blog. I'm a newbie author and I get such a lot out of reading about your experiences. Thanks, ladies!

Oh, good :) I'm glad someone else keeps their first drafts away from beta readers. Makes me feel better about hiding things from my crit partners ;)

I just feel that there's no point in showing the draft to someone when there are still things wrong with it that I know how to fix. They'll just tell me things I already know, and I'll have wasted their time.

Generally I fix up the structure -- yeah, just like that :) -- and do a slash and burn for dross before I show anyone. Then my readers come in -- when I know there's something wrong, but I can't put my finger on what it is or how to fix it.

Ann Aguirre said...

Erica, first, thank you so much for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoy the blog.

Second, your process sounds a lot like mine. I generally do the same thing. I fix what I can first, and then let my beta reader look over it. She's great at catching continuity issues.

Third, I checked out your website and OMG, your series looks awesome. The excerpt was yummy, and I can't wait to check it out.

Erica said...

Thanks, Ann! Nice of you to visit. (BTW, I was most excited to discover you have not just one but two more Jax books on the way. Excellent!)

I like revising a lot better these days, now that I make an effort to outline. Fewer gaping holes to fill, so I can concentrate more on the juicy details.

Ann Aguirre said...

Yep, I just wrapped up final (editor requested) revisions on Doubleblind and first revisions on Killbox. So both Jax books are now in the production pipeline.