TATTF, Prizes & a Storyboard

Side note: Don’t forget to add your creative juices to the Renaming “Trevor & the Tooth Fairy” Title Contest–you can win fun prizes!

It’s been *forever* since I did a Thursday Thirteen. I keep meaning to, and keep forgetting they exist. (Much like Poetry Monday. I must remember to rejoin the poetry train!) So, today I remember, but I’m still not doing one. Can’t think of thirteen anythings off the top of my head.

Instead… lets talk about revision. Mostly because I’m getting ready to revise and really can’t think of anything else right now, ’cause I’m super-excited about that.

But I’m not going to rehash all revision posts elsewhere on this blog or on the Manuscript Mavens blog. I want to talk about what we do before revision.

Yes, we. You and me. I’ll show you mine first, and then you show me yours in the comments, okay?

So, as you may or may not know, I’ve written 4 complete manuscripts. (I’d say 4.7, since DATD is almost done, but I don’t think 0.7 of a manuscript counts as “complete”. *g)

How did I revise Novel 1?
* Start writing first draft
* Receive crit group feedback before finishing first draft
* Immediately address criticism, even if that meant rewriting from scratch before continuing on with the new writing
* Repeat

This was a Bad Plan. Do not try this at home. I got so, so, so sick of that story…

Everyone’s process is different. Some people like to revise multiple times. Some people are ready to ship it off to their agent/editor by the time they hit The End.

I’m the sort of person who needs to hit The End before rewriting page 1. I’ve learned that about myself finally, and so glad I did. So, moving on to:

How did I revise Novel 2?
* Write complete first draft
* Send off requested full (from conference pitch)
* Receive single CP feedback
* Realize story needs serious help, and shelve entire project

Yet another Bad Idea.

The problem here wasn’t that I shelved this story. I’m so glad I did. It’s not even a genre I wish to pursue anymore.

The problem is the order of bulleted items 2 and 3, especially since this story was aimed at pretty much the sole category house. I’d killed this story’s chances.

I learned to complete the first draft before starting major reconstructive surgery, which was good, and I’d quit virtually all the eight billion online critique groups I’d joined during Story 1 (which was another terrible idea–never write a story by committee!) but I was so eager to get the requested MS off in a timely fashion that I sent it off before I got my CP’s feedback. Which was stupid. So, moving on:

How did I revise Novel 3?
* Write complete manuscript
* Shelve it

Say it with me: yet another Bad Idea. How was it going to go anywhere, with that method?

The upside is that if I had not shelved that story when I did, I wouldn’t’ve been sitting around with nothing better to do when the crapometer rolled around. So I definitely don’t regret it in that sense.

Plus, having given that manuscript so much space–and having written 1.7 stories since then–has afforded me perspective and objectivity I didn’t have before, not to mention better skill at my craft. So, when I go back to revise this story (and I will, right after TATTF) I’ll actually do a much better job of it than if I’d sat down to revise it right after I finished it in the first place.

So, not completely a bad thing!

I mentioned I was actually learning during this process, so on to:

How did I revise Novel 4?
* Write complete first draft, sending CPs chunks at a time
* Read and file their crits while finishing draft
* Make a To Do list of big things to change (while finishing draft)
* Plotstorm with CPs after finishing draft
* Make all the big To Do changes first
* Make all the line-crit feedback second
* Layer and polish last
* Send off requested full (this time, via slush pile request)

This, as it turns out, was a Good Idea. One I highly recommend, if you haven’t found your process yet. (If you have found your process, then by all means, stick to your process!)

So, now that I did all that, is novel number four perfect? Hell no.

I got a fabulous edit memo from my agent–some points of which eerily echoed story feedback I’d received the week before, from a non-writer beta reader–and I now have a Plan of Attack.

Here, I’ll prove it to you:

TATTF Storyboard: Erica Ridley

That monstrosity, my friends, is the brand spanking new TATTF storyboard, the methodology of which is cobbled together between a workshop my pal Diana once gave, a concept my pal Julie shared on her blog, and an index card system I’ve been using since the very first story. (In many ways, I transferred the index cards to sticky notes. Much better this way. If you’re interested, I’ll tell you all about it.)

Now my plan is to create a To Do List and a Things To Keep In Mind List (the latter of which is to prevent me from forgetting plot elements or entire characters for whole acts at a time *g) later this evening, and finally get my feet wet with the revision first thing in the morning.

Look to the right–I even added a handy dandy Revise-O-Meter! Isn’t it just lovely? (Er… it will be lovely, once it doesn’t say 0 out of 100,000 accomplished. *g)

YOUR TURN: Now I want to hear all about YOU! If you’ve written at least one complete story, please share the different approaches to revision you’ve tried, and what so far (if anything) has worked best for you. If you’re currently at work on your first story, please share whether you’re revising as you go or waiting to The End. Either way, I’d love to know what made you choose the methods you chose, and what elements did or did not prove effective. Share!


  1. B.E. Sanderson - Reply

    Book1 – Write book, revising as I go. Edit book. Give book to friends to read for typos, content and clarity. Fix boo-boos. Submit book. Receive rejections. Start Book 2. Re-edit book. Submit book. Receive rejections. Get dejected and depressed. Wallow in self-pity for 9 months before writing or editing – anything. Kick self in pants. Resume writing on Book 2.

    Book 2 – Write book, revising as I go. Edit book. Re-read book. Edit more. Give book to friends for inspection. Submit book. Receive rejections. Take them like a man and get to work on Book 3.

    Book 3 – Write first draft straight through. Find a crit partner. Send Book 2 to crit partner, and edit when the suggestions come in. Edit Book 3, no less than 3 times. Start Book 4. Send Book 1 to crit partner, and edit when suggestions come in. Send Book 3 to CP and beta readers. Wait for comments.

    Book 4 – Write first draft all the way through. Discuss issues with CP. (I’m not back to editing this one yet). Deep edit Book 1. Submit Book 2 to publisher.

    This is where I am now. I wouldn’t recommend the process for books 1 & 2. And all in all, my process is fairly confusing, but it seems to work for me.

  2. Carrie - Reply

    Book 1 – write to the end. Read it out loud and do line edits. Enter line edits into computer, send to agents. Decide I hate sub-genre and shelve it.

    Book 2 – write to the end. Realize, when writing hook/blurb, that I killed off a character on page 1 that should have lived. Throw book at wall and chalk up to practice (rather than revise and rewrite entire thing).

    Take 4 years off, go to law school.

    Book 3 – write 20k, send to crit partner to make sure it isn’t terrible and too strange. Get the go ahead to keep writing. Write to the end, read through and smooth over as many inconsistancies as possible, have boyfriend critique and incorporate his thoughts. Send to 2 CPs, put all comments in one master document and make list of big changes. Read through, addressing as many as possible. Input changes into the computer, read through to pick up changes and crits I was too lazy to do the first time. Submit (tomorrow!).

    I’m at that stage with Book 3 where I realize I could go throught his again and and again and again making changes and at some point you just gotta stop. Since being fish-slapped, I figure this is the best place to stop and submit.

  3. Katie Alender - Reply

    Book 1 – Start writing, give work in progress to the then-soon-to-be-husband, he declares it boring, I stop writing for a year.

    Book 2 – Start writing, finish draft, put book away for a year (oops), then do manuscript overhauls with detail passes in between — probably 3-4 cycles of this. That means doing one big structural revision, then printing the whole thing and reading through with post-it flags.

    I can’t tell you how I wrapped up the process, because as you know, I’m still revising!

  4. Vicki - Reply

    Great post!

    Book 1 – Write the book. Revise? What the heck is that? Isn’t my book already perfect in everyway? I was new at this. I’d written forever, received great grades in English classes, and everyone (family and friends) loved my story. It lives with the dust bunny.

    Book 2 – Write the book, edit some of the chapters. Read it again and loved it. Still really new at this novel writing thing. It joined book one in land of the dust.

    Book 3 – Write the first three chapters, edit, and write some more, edit, re-read the first three chapters, scrap it and begin again. Sorry to say this book never actually found it’s way to the end. The last chapter was never written. This was the favorite of the books I’d written.

    Stopped writing for a long time. Family issues.

    Book 4 – This came out of an online writing course at BNU. It’s not complete so I guess I shouldn’t call it book 4 but to me that’s what it is. Although it has not placed in a contest, the feed back has been great and the scores have been high.

    Book 5 – Ah, the current wip. Write a chapter, send it to my cp, and edit what I agree with. This was the first three chapters. Write chapters 4 – 9, send it to my cp. She has some great comments and questions. Make an excel spreadsheet to keep everyone straight. Continue writing forward. I’m currently in chapter eleven and honestly am not sure if I’ll continue forward until the end, or go back to edit from time to time.

    Basically, what this tells me is, I haven’t found the fool proof method that works for me yet. Hmmm…must think on this one.

  5. December/Stacia - Reply

    You have a good non-writing beta reader? That’s like having gold in your pocket!

    I send chunks to the CPs as I go, but I often to back and add their comments in too. Then when the whole thing is done I set it aside for a while, then print it out, re-read it and make extensive notes, go in and add all the changes…let it sit, repeat process, and it’s ready. (I do edit as I go, too.)

  6. BernardL - Reply

    I’ve written twelve manuscripts, two back in the days of typewriters, and full postage send outs for rejection. Five of them I self-published, just to see my name in print before I got too old to read. Four are out gathering rejection notices, and I’m editing my latest now. I love writing stories, and I would never create a manuscript by group, even if it meant never being published for real. I usually edit constantly throughout the writing of a manuscript, and then edit, and edit, and edit, and… well, you all know: edit some more. The golden rule I write by is you have to love what you write, or the editing will drive you insane. I believe if you can’t read your manuscript over and over again, as you must do to bring it to publishing form, you have more than an editing problem. While I don’t have brutally honest CP’s reading my stuff, I think it’s a great idea, but only after you’ve completed the manuscript. This is, of course, just one unpublished hack writer’s opinion though. 🙂

  7. John Elder Robison - Reply

    I see all the stuff you’ve got – a story board, notes, and such.

    When I wrote Look Me in the Eye, I really just kept it all in my head. I never really had any handwritten notes or supporting materials other that the MS Word file.

    But I know my visualization abilities are strong, and that may not work for other people.

    Still, it works for me, even now.

  8. Kristin B - Reply

    Well, I learned my lesson the hard way with the first. I was so excited about my WIP that I gave each chapter to my friends and husband as I finished it, not realizing how horrid and rough it was, and how much work it needed.

    The last one, I stepped away from for a while. Then I came back and did the major revisions I knew it needed, as well as catching as many minor things as I could. Then I gave to a CP and a non-writer beta, and then incorporated their comments in (after MUCH procrastination).

    For my current, I’ll probably do about the same thing, although I’m very interested to hear more about your storyboard there–that might be a big help!

  9. A Paperback Writer - Reply

    You don’t really want to hear about the first 4 novels that are sitting in filing cabinets collecting dust, right? Good.
    With #5 (the half-vampire story from Miss Snark’s crapometer) and #6 (the sequel), the process was:
    1. Get good idea and share with students.
    2. Listen to their ideas and bounce my ideas off them.
    3. Write, bounce ideas off students, revise as necessary.
    4. Repeat step #3 aboutd 750 times.
    5. Finish ms. photocopy and hand out to beta readers
    6. read their comments, revise
    7. Let sit for one solid year while I got my masters degree.
    8. revised, photocopy, hand to beta readers
    9. revise
    10. enter crapometer
    11. revise and send off to Ms. Big Name Agent who requested it from Miss Snark’s blog
    12. start #6
    13. revise #5 to work with #6
    14. get lengthy letter from Ms. Big Name Agent explaining what needs to be fixed
    15. revise #5
    16. Let everything sit while I spend the summer in England taking lit classes
    16. revise again
    17. send out to more beta readers, including writing adults
    that’s as far as I am so far.

  10. A Paperback Writer - Reply

    By the way, I got to hear Alexander McCall Smith (#1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Sunday Philosophy Club, and 44 Scotland Street series) do a reading, and he said he NEVER revises.
    Whoa. Dude.

  11. Vicki - Reply

    A Paperback Writer – I asked Virgina Henley how long it took her to do her first draft. Her repsonse, “I never do a first draft, I write the book.”

    That’s it. She writes the book and turns it in. How amazing is that? Then again, she is quite the amazing woman and we are so lucky to have her in TARA. 🙂

  12. alternatefish - Reply

    we will ignore all the novel-like things I wrote as a child.

    Novel 1: write novel, kinda revising along the way. finish draft 1, re-read, declare to be crap-ola, and put in drawer.

    Novel 2: write for over two years, revising along the way. I simply cannot finish a draft if I know I need to fix something on page 20. It’s like physically impossible. I also use what I call a Splotchy method of writing, writing the scenes in whatever order they come to me. So writing/revising at different parts of the book doesn’t seem out of place, it’s just part of my jumping around.

    I hope to be done with this draft by the end of August, and hopefully it will be a draft that doesn’t need heavy revision. Ha. HahahAHAHa.

  13. A Paperback Writer - Reply

    Thanks for adding another author, Vicki. It’s hard to believe these people don’t revise.
    According to Ben Johnson, William Shakespeare didn’t revise, either. Also according to Johnson, Shakespeare SHOULD have revised. Now, I am huge fan of the bard, but after reading some of those LOOOOOONG soliloquys in Hamlet, I sometimes wonder if Johnson didn’t have a point.

  14. Katrina Stonoff - Reply

    Wow, this was really interesting. Thanks.

    Personally, I think everyone (but especially newbies) should avoid revising until the first draft is complete. I’ve seen many, many manuscripts die on the vine from too much revision to Chapters 1-10.

    With my first completed novel, I used Holly Lisle’s One-Pass Revision. It worked really well, except for the story arc. Because this method examines scenes one at a time, I didn’t see the big-picture problems.

    With my second novel, I did much what you did on Novel #4 except my storyboard was on . I love Tinderbox because it lets me move groups of stickies around together, and keeps intact the relationships between events (i.e. cause/effect) even while I’m moving around stickies.

    With my third novel, I wisely did the storyboard before I even started writing. I think this is my best process yet (maybe combined with Holly Lisle’s), but I’m only half finished with my Novel #3. I’ll let you know when I decide.

  15. Katrina Stonoff - Reply

    Ack! Nothing worse than someone armed with a little knowledge! Sorry about that messed-up hyperlink.

  16. ERiCA - Reply

    Wow what great stories! I love, love, love how we all have different processes. Some of our experiences overlap and then others are totally different.

    (And for the record, I can’t imagine my experience ever being like Alexander’s, Virginia’s or the bard’s. Amazing!)

    Katrina: Thanks for the links! (No worries about the extra-long one. I was still able to follow it perfectly fine. *g)

    AlternateFish: I’m so impressed with people who can do it this way! It’s not my process, but writing out of order works for Jenny Crusie, too, and I love her books. (And yeah… I’m ignoring all the novel-like things I wrote as a child, too. LOL.)

  17. lacey kaye - Reply

    I really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts, but the homework is too hard, Erica!


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Erica Ridley