I Killed a Red Pen

My first ever round of revisions went pretty well, I think. I mean, I have nothing to compare them to.

I printed each chapter as I wrote it over the previous two months, three-hole punching them and putting them in a binder. When I was finished, after letting it sit for two weeks, I broke out the red pen and started reading the pages. It took me about two weeks to cover my 260 pages and 37 chapters with red ink.

A lot of red ink. So much, in fact, around Chapter 22 or so my pen died. Yikes.

It wasn't a brand new pen when I started, but I don't normally use it very often so there was plenty of ink. Now all of that ink is soaking the pages of my manuscript.

Some people get really freaked out by red ink, as if it gives them flashbacks to elementary school, but it doesn't bother me. It's just another step on the road from Point A to Point B, and a take an odd kind of glee in marking up pages. I take more glee when they are someone else's, but still, it's fun. The whole point is to make the end product better, so it's hard to be mad at that.

I learned a couple things reading through the manuscript:

1 - There were scenes where I knew as I wrote them I would need to come back and spend serious time on them during the revision stage. These scenes were not nearly as bad as I remembered.

2 - There were scenes where as I wrote them I knew I had nailed them, that the revisions here would be minimal. These scenes are not nearly as good as I remember.

Then there were the scenes where I didn't have a good sense of where they would end up. Those scenes ended up being really good or really horrible.

In the end, no scene escaped with only a minimum of red ink. In fact, I could probably count on two fingers the number of pages without red on them - and those two pages probably were at the end of a chapter with only a few lines on it.

To me, I take this all as good news. I think at the first draft stage if I don't find problems or things to improve in every scene I'm not looking hard enough.

What's the next step? This weekend I will start the integration of these edits into a second draft. I'm hoping this only takes a couple weeks, but who knows? I signed up for a six-week online class about revisions starting on July 17th, so I want to be finished at least a week before that so I can let it sit. (In my confirmation email for the class it was suggested I should come to class with a manuscript I hadn't looked at in six weeks. Oh well.)

That class is going to produce the edits leading to the third draft, and after that, maybe, I'll see if anyone wants to read the thing. Maybe.

It's all progress - and it feels good to reach another milestone.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to run to Office Max for more red pens...

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