Revising Meet the Larssons, Day 5: What’s the Third Pile For?

Holly Lisle describes the set up for the Manuscript Slog as requiring space for your spiral notebook and three piles:  one for the pages you haven’t reviewed yet, one for the pages you’ve reviewed and marked up, and one for the pages you’ve reviewed but haven’t made any revisions to.

So far, I only need two piles.  I reworked another 10 pages last night, and 7 more tonight — through page 76 — and I sincerely doubt I will ever need a pile for that last category.  I mean, really, if I got an entire page of MTL perfect the first time, it would be only by coincidence, the same way that if you put a monkey in front of a word processor and let him type long enough, he might turn out a page of comprehensible English.  And yes, I’m the monkey in that example.

By cutting the first eight chapters, I cut approximately 11,900 words.  As I’m editing into the meat of the book now, I worry when I cut lines or paragraphs that I’m cutting too much.  But in addition to all the cutting, I’m doing a lot of rewriting (as opposed to revising):

Selected pages from tonight's Slog.

Selected pages from tonight's Slog.

The front of page 72 - I kept the first two lines, then crossed out everything else on the page and wrote over it.

The front of page 72 - I kept the first two lines, then crossed out everything else on the page and wrote over it.

I continued onto the back of page 72, and then on to page 72.1 in my notebook -- it flows neatly into the original start to page 73.

I continued onto the back of page 72, and then on to page 72.1 in my notebook -- it flows neatly into the original start to page 73.

I do feel like my writing has improved in this past year, though, so I would hope that MTL will get better on the rewrite.  God knows, it can’t get worse.  There’s a reason this part of the process is called the Manuscript Slog:  it’s like wading through a fetid swamp, and being bitten to death my mosquitoes above the water line while leeches drain your blood below it, but in a good way.  Imagine being Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, towing the boat and Katherine Hepburn upriver, and you’ll have some idea what I mean.  In the end, you know there will be the satisfaction of a job well done, a hearty handshake of congratulations, and a helping hand to pull off the leeches.

Which reminds me:  my first blogiversary is coming up on December 17.  Not the leeches, the feeling as though my writing has improved in this past year).  I need to prepare for My Year in Review About Me, with a very special post about me.  Please remember to stop by on Dec. 17, and leave a comment — about me, my year of blogging, whatever else you’d like to say … about me.

Here’s something about me that you’ve probably already figured out:  I am an enormous geek (enormous being the size of my geekitude, not me; I’m kind of short). Because I am an enormous geek, I am unreasonably excited that TNT has produced a new movie in The Librarian series.  The really geeky part?  This is the third one in the series, and only now are the Mrs. and I talking about whether the kids might enjoy watching it, too.

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5 responses to “Revising Meet the Larssons, Day 5: What’s the Third Pile For?

  1. First, I’ve been meaning to thank you for posting the link to the editing method, because as I slog through 400+ pages of material researched and written over a period of a decade, I’ve found myself in need of a methodical system, preferably one that gets me away from the computer, because that’s not working so well for me at the moment. This has been helpful. And second, how can I never have heard of the librarian series?

  2. Ah, the beautiful carnage of revision! It’s almost scary to look at all that blue ink, but it’s worth it.

    Scary to cut so much work, isn’t it, even if you know from the get-go that you were going to cut it. Still, to see it all laid out like that is pretty impressive…thanks for sharing the pics. Good luck with the revision!

  3. Harriet – I’ve always hated editing, but giving myself a two-month break seems to have helped. I’ve effectively done 17 pages in three days, although I wrote an entire (short) chapter from nothing, so that number is a little misleading.

    I don’t understand how you could have missed The Librarian. Noah Wylie’s character has the job that everyone we went to school with secretly (or not so secretly) wanted. Or still wants. If anyone is looking to hire someone for that job, my email address is in the sidebar, toward the bottom.

    Jenifer – I keep telling myself all my pretty scenes are still there on the computer, that I can go back and re-read the restaurant scene with Crenshaw and Jacqueline anytime I want to. But they had to go. They’re backstory, they’re told from the wrong POV, they don’t advance the plot. They are, as someone on AW pointed out to me, vignettes at most. So they’re out, and future literary scholars can read them to gain new insight into my characters’ motivations.

  4. Ah, those ink spotted pages look eerily familiar. Only difference being I used mostly red and purple colored pens.

    Definitely not for the faint of heart. :)

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