Try this revision dare:
One of the best revisions tips I've been given was from a friend who told me when she's having a hard time with a manuscript, sometimes she will just start retyping it from scratch--without looking at the original!
Okay, Ammi-Joan…the hard time with the manuscript part we can all identify with. But typing it over without peeking?
Ammi-Joan confesses: I kept this idea tenuously in my mental "last resort" basket.
However, some time ago a hard drive crash caused me to lose a manuscript which I dearly loved. It wasn't too long, so I decided to try retyping it to the best of my recollection. Shortly after finishing doing so I found a print-out of the original. Some things I'd rewritten almost identically. Others (in the new version) were brand new. Others (in the old version) I'd left out. I combined these two versions into one that contained all the strongest points of each.
I don't know that I'd use this technique all the time--but for those pesky WIPs that just won't seem to fall into place, retying blind can sometimes work magic.
Magic….like fairy magic?
I think so.
My confession: I LOVE this idea. And I am so glad Ms. Paquette suggested it.
I tried “typing over without looking” (now known as: TOWL....and I don't mean throw it in!) a long time ago on a manuscript that I was too tied to. I remembered hearing a VCFA faculty member make a similar confession: that after writing a rough draft, she presses DELETE. As in GOODBYE DRAFT. She remarked that the first draft teaches her what she needs to know to write the book for real. That when she deletes, she is free to write the story she knows.
ARE YOU A RISK TAKER?
I am also a crazy drafter....my rough drafts always contain short cuts and silly decisions.
So I did it.
Okay. I didn’t push Delete all the way. I saved it on a flash drive. But then, without looking, I RE-IMAGINED the book. I changed the POV. In fact, I gave the book a new protagonist. I think the only thing I kept was one subplot. It was that subplot that first interested me in the story.
That book, fourteen hard revisions later, is now finished. In fact, it was just acquired.
So pardon me for a moment if I do a little leaping and dancing!
Now.......try it! Even just a chapter! Put your old draft away and get re-aquainted with your characters, your POV, your plot, your IDEA.
Don’t stay married to your rough draft!
TOWL!!!!! That's type over without looking!
Now I’m going to go try on some new shoes! Oh yeah, and write! More tips tomorrow and Friday!
-Happy Sarah Aronson