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So, since I’ve had more than enough of “resting”, and since the pain from my malfunctioning gallbladder hasn’t been too bad this weekend and I need a certain amount of pain to keep me going, I decided to try Holly Lisle’s one-pass manuscript revision technique on Song.

Yep, no shortage of pain there. I’m 7 chapters in and I’ve got a great big ow on, complete with brain cramps and possible hallucinations involving stabbing myself in the chest with a Bic.

Which is not to say it’s not working. It’s just that my eyes are blurring, my hand is permanently cramped in the clawed-up-and-clutching-the-pen-for-dear-life position, I’ve got ink from fingertips to elbow, and my first draft looks like a large, frightened squid puked on it. This would be much easier to resent if I wasn’t very much afraid that somewhere in between battering my brain for a 25-word theme and 4 25-word sub themes, removing a chapter, cutting an estimated 6K words and adding somewhere around 5K so far in new scenes/descriptions/dialogue, shredding my backstory to tiny quivering-yet-hopefully-cohesive bits and making my printer a very unhappy machine in the process, I’ve already seriously improved this book, and I’m only seven chapters in. Just look at this mess:

mutilated MS



The top center page with the table is a list of themes, blurbs, character arcs, and major and minor characters that was not pleasant to come up with. By the time I got done condensing 97,000 words into a 25 word hollywood high concept I could barely remember my characters’ names. And that was just chapter 1, the early stages. And you can’t even see the backs of the pages, where the ink runs fast and thick. It only got worse from there. The dancing snowman on that teacup was laughing at me by chapter 3.

Please note the lack of red ink. I don’t like red ink. It makes me feel like I’m either at a tacky christmas party or in the ER.

Like I said, I’d feel better if I could say this was a waste of time: it’s not. I’m not 100% sure yet it’s going to work for me, but I do know I screwed around pathetically when I did my first edit of my first draft of my first book, and I think I only used one pen through that whole process. I’m on my 2nd already, and I’ve got 16 chapters to go. I also realized that doing all of this in one sitting is well beyond me. By chapter 7 every even page looked horrible beyond description, and every odd one looked tight, clean, and unimpeachable. I have a sneaking suspicion neither of those things is right, so I decided to do this over a few days.


I love this stuff.

I’m trying to remember right now why I love this stuff, and it could be a few hours before that particular bunch of neurons starts to fire again, but I’m sure I’ll get there after an Excedrin and a night’s sleep.

Screwing around for 6 passes last time was a bit more fun, I will say that. Damn you, Holly Lisle, for being right about this. I’m already modifying the plan for my own purposes, but it works a hell of a lot better than screening for a list of things, then another list of things, etc..

*huge, swooning sigh*