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Time and tide wait for no man… or woman… or writer in the throes of revision…

moon tide

This week’s task for How To Revise Your Novel (HTRYN) was setting up an events timeline. For me this meant research. Obviously, I’d done a little before I started writing (of course I did – I’m a research junkie), but now I was having to select exact dates on a calendar. And with my WIP being set in the somewhat distant past (1723 to be precise), this meant digging through volumes and volumes of old journals, encyclopedias and almanacs…

Or, for those of us with only 24 hours in our day, typing some random carefully thought out search terms into Google 😀

Did you know, up until 14th September (coincidentally, my birth date) 1752, the Scots used the Julian calendar – not the Gregorian calendar we use today?

Well, if you didn’t, you do now 😀

This was such wonderful news – converting Gregorian dates to Julian ones was what I’d always wanted to spend my Saturday morning doing (if you couldn’t tell, I was being slightly sarcastic there).

Apparently, there’s a formula for this – I found some nifty instructions HERE

formula

Fortunately for me (who misplaced the left side of my brain somewhere beneath the dirty dishes and piles of laundry), there happens to be a convenient date converter online: Fourmilab’s Calendar Converter.

Phew! *wipes hand across brow in relief*

So, I converted my most important dates (eg. my MC’s birthday), added the relevant season transitions (I found the 1723 season dates HERE), and then thought…

“Hey, why don’t I sync the moon cycles with my scenes so when a full moon is mentioned in my WIP it actually coincides with a full moon IRL?”

Of course, I would have to think that, wouldn’t I? *rolls eyes*

As it turned out, this was a lot simpler to research. The moon phases for the UK in 1723 were easy to find (I found them HERE all nicely set out in Julian calendar format):

1723 Calendar

Putting two and two together (and four and six), I came up with a timeline for my WIP, complete with moon phase synchronicity 😀 Now when I’m revising I’ll know exactly when my heroine should be wrapped up in her arisaid and when it’s too bloody dark at night for her to see more than a few feet in front of her lovely self.

Good stuff!

But next time I swear I’m going to work all of this stuff out BEFORE I write my draft!

Well, that’s the plan, anyway…

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To write is human, to revise is divine…*

* That’s just a little twist on the famous Stephen King quote: “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m currently doing Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel course (HTRYN). For those of you unfamiliar with HTRYN, it’s an amazing (and incredibly intense) 22 week course which guides you through the revision process. I’m loving every minute of it, which is no surprise really since it’s just like being back at school (and anyone who knows me, knows I love school). There’s lots of reading and lots of worksheets to do – my idea of heaven!

HTRYN is divided into three parts:

  1. Triage (Lessons 1 – 8) – where you get to know your manuscript inside out, flaws and all;
  2. Major Surgery (Lessons 9 – 17) – where you learn how to cut your manuscript and do block revision; and
  3. Cosmetic Surgery (Lessons 18 – 22) – where you focus on all of the surface stuff, like line editing, and perfecting dialogue, description and flow.

I’m nearing the end of Lesson 7 now – I should be done in two more days, and then I’ll get to move on to Lesson 8. I can’t wait! Lesson 8 is the final lesson of Triage, which means finally I’ll be able to start Major Surgery! Yay!

I have to say, the hardest part about HTRYN is waiting. I only get access to one new lesson a week, so I can’t skip ahead, but I’m dying to dive in and make all the changes I want to make (I have a whole list of them – several pages worth)! If it were up to me, I’d be cutting and revising and rewriting right now! I know in this case though, patience really is virtue. I’ve never revised a novel before so I need to learn as much about the process as I can. And even though I’m spending a lot of time on the process right now, I know the next time I revise, it will only take me a fraction of the time – because everything I learn now will be firmly ensconced in my mind the next time I write.

My revision notes so far - getting as big as my manuscript!

My revision notes so far – getting as big as my manuscript!

I have to say though, I’m very glad I’m not a pantser – by pantser I mean the kind of writer who writes without a plan and just jumps in, letting the story guide them (ie. writes by the seat of their pants). Because I plotted my WIP in a very detailed, precise manner before I even started typing words onto the screen, my manuscript is in pretty good condition. There aren’t many superfluous scenes or storylines that go nowhere – pretty much everything in my WIP was put there for a reason. So the work I have to do during revision is not as full-on as it is for some writers who just wrote like crazy and are now left to plough through all the excess dirt to get to the gold. Pretty much what I’m doing is locating scenes and parts of scenes that need improvement and finding little unrelated things tucked here and there throughout the book that can be tied together to give the story more depth.

It’s a fun process, and one which warms me every now and then with little flames of enlightenment. For example, back during Lesson 4 when I was working on my plot and subplots, I discovered the underlying theme of my story:

Finding strength and power in oneself to do what you want to do, and be who you want to be – not just do what (or be who) you think everyone expects you to do (or be).

This realization blew me away! I hadn’t even known it had slipped into my story yet it reflected the same struggle I’d faced when making the decision to drop law and pursue a career as a writer – a  decision which, if it had been made any other way, might have resulted in the story never even having been written!

It sure is funny how the subconscious works.

Anyways, if I want to finish Triage, I’d better get back to it. Time waits for no one, and manuscripts certainly don’t revise themselves on their own.

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