Revising Leah

June 26, 2008

Progress Report #4: Slowing Down

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 12:35 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Often, when I read a novel, I find that the last fifty pages or so seem to take the longest to read. Apparently, the same slow down occurs when one is revising. Since late last week, I’ve been working on the last 5 chapters of the novel, but whereas I used to be able to work through a chapter in just a day or two, it is now taking me a lot longer. In particular, chapter 20 felt like it would never end. Even though it’s not a particularly long chapter, I spent at least three days working on it. The problem was that it was a complete mess in terms of organization. Passages were repeated, sometimes information contradicted or at least was at odds with other details in the chapter or previous chapters, other events weren’t in the best order, and lots of sentences and paragraphs needed to be completely rewritten. It was a nightmare; sometimes I was spending two hours on just two pages worth of text. I finally dug my way out of it, though, and my revising is picking up speed once again. I’m currently on chapter 22.

Sometimes, the corrections that I make while I revise can be very subtle. For example, at the beginning of chapter 22, Mrs. Nells and Grandma are trying to talk Leah into going shopping with them. Mrs. Nells asks Leah if she wants to go, and I originally wrote, “Leah replied to her mother’s question by shaking her head no.” That’s a perfectly fine sentence, but the word “question” isn’t the best word for this context. Yes, when Mrs. Nells says, “Do you want to come along?” she is, technically, asking a question, but it is more accurate to say that Mrs. Nells is inviting her daughter to go with them. Thus, I changed the sentence to read, “Leah replied to her mother’s invitation by shaking her head no.” Using the word “invitation” also strengthens my use of the word “replied” because that is what you do with an invitation: you reply to it.

In the next phase of this revising project, I’ll be spending a lot more time on the details of the text (in this phase I’m trying to look more at the “big picture” elements of the story), but for now, I make little changes and corrections like these when I notice they are needed.

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