Writing Tip: How I Pants (part II)



Writing Tip: 

How I Pants 
part II

So, if you missed part one, go here.

I outlined how I pantsed the first draft, letting my imagination form the story and the blocks build as I went without any planning aside from a concept. Now, I will discuss what happens after and show plotters where we most likely reconvene. Here's my revision process:

Step must be done: Marinating
I put the manuscript aside for a month or so working on another book in the meantime. The steps during the drafting process takes me anywhere from one to three months. She marinates for a couple, and then usually I'll get through these next steps below around the sixth month marker. I'm averaging two novels a year.

Fyr marinated for roughly one month. I was eager to get back on it, because my novel Apidae was getting published, and was going to have to switch to that for edits; I was determined to finish Fyr before then.

Step dunno: She's not perfect, revise
I read through my manuscript, looking at it critically. I'm not too bad at this because I grade (and teach) for a living, so I simply slip on that professorial thinking cap and butcher it. Miraculously as always, there's a solid plot if I now try to graph it, my characters arc and change, and there are deeper meanings with rich symbolism. But there are a few hiccups that come with the pantsing territory. I might realize I repeated a similar situation in the beginning and end or my characters got together too fast (they are so impatient). I make these fixes, let's call them patch ups. Character got together too soon? Well, I'll patch that up with a few chapters that builds the conflict better, enhances characters and world, and has smaller stake occurrences to keep readers entertained. This is not as consciously done as it sounds, again, more organic with the only the thought of "stall them." If I repeat something, I delete the less effective part. I go through it twice making notes of any issues that crop up. "The chapter before said she left at night, so why is she getting there in the late afternoon if the journey was only to take a couple hours?" or "the character couldn't see any of this out in the middle if the ocean at night" type of notes. I also add more description in since I'm a minimalist at times--it's hard to get every detail of a scene your mind is playing in real time and you are trying to record it with your fingers. In this stage, I tend to add about 10,000 or more words.


I believe with Fyr, roughly 2,000 was cut and 8,000 added at this stage. Sometimes, like with Apidae (which I had written the first draft in 3 weeks), I had to add a lot more--20,000. This usually happens in round one, then round two is me making more notes of things to fix as I read through and edit.

Step back to organized people land: Edit
So if you are a plotter, we have split paths and rejoin here most likely. I read through my manuscript fixing all my notes while also editing for wording and grammar. I do this twice, the second time looking for my Achilles heel grammar and word choice issues, like those blasted dialogue tags!

I edited Fyr once and entered a pitch party on Twitter, snagged a publisher "like," so I had to race through the second round of editing. I was not confident it was my best, but the publishers thought highly enough of my writing to offer a contract. Before Fyr came out, the publishers and I did find some things in three more rounds of editing. 

And that is how I pants and revise! I might not be perfect, but pantsing works for me; that's why editors or publishers are a necessity. If you are interested in reading a novel (that you would never imagine or recognize as being born of chaos), see Fyr here.

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