Step one of the writing process for me.

Step one of the writing process for me.

For me, it always begins with sticky notes and a journal filled with ideas. The sticky notes are then filled with ideas and put onto the wall for further thought. I may or may not start writing. Sometimes, I just let the ideas sit up there, basking in the glory of being an idea that made it to the board.

Ideas are easy. At this point, I would even say that the writing is fairly easy. Revision is not easy. I told you guys a while back about Laura Halse Anderson’s post about how she does revision, and I tried it out. For me, the final product looked like this.

What the finished product for me looked like.

What the finished product for me looked like. 

My paper was covered with what was actually in the novel. I was able to see some huge inconsistencies when it came to point of view and the placement of my backstory. I looked at the options for my Irving stories and was able to see a really clear line of where my story started and where it was going to end.

All done!

All done!

I was so excited when I was finally done, but I’ve decided there are some changes that I will make when I repeat this process in the future (possibly even with Look to the Sky… again). 

The first change that I will make is that I will write everything on sticky notes instead of on paper. Here is the problem that I ran into:

For Chapter 9, my notes say that I need to break up the number of visits to the Cypress House. That was a good piece of advice that I gave myself, so I definitely want to follow through on that. So I do, but I have no room to make those changes on my page, and I wrote in pen because that’s how I roll, so I’ve made these changes, but I don’t know how to document them.

The answer is in the sticky notes. Color coded sticky notes, of course. So, I will write my notes for each chapter on one color sticky note, then my notes to myself, ways to make the novel better, ideas that I have that I think I should work with will be noted on a different color sticky note. When I go back and make those revisions, I get to take that sticky note off of my board and look at it, not at all the sticky notes at once.

The breakdown of one chapter.

The breakdown of one chapter.

Another really good reason to use the sticky note method is that once I make those revisions, I just create a new sticky note with the changes. I can throw away the old sticky note or I can keep it in case I need to see the way things used to be.

There are lots of variations of this that I could create. I could color code based on the point of view (yellow for Georgia, green for Joel, something like that). That would create a very clear picture of who has commandeered the most real estate in the novel. Another way that I could color code is to write my revision sticky notes in a different color. This would require me to have three different colors and possibly two sizes. One large sticky note and color for the original, a small, differently colored sticky note for suggested revisions, and another large sticky note of a different color so as to see the changes. Then it’s clear where revisions have happened and where they haven’t.

Being able to make the changes as I go would keep me from being in the position that I’m in now, the one where I have made changes to my novel, but I don’t remember what the changes were or more importantly remember where they were. Now, it looks like I’m going to have to go through this process again on sticky notes. Good thing I really love sticky notes. Do you have any secrets of revision that you could share?

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