Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's Drafty In Here

Sharon Wildwind

Did you have a good equinox?

Mine was terrific. 2:44 Mountain Daylight Time Sunday afternoon was lovely: bright blue sky, green and yellow trees, and a cool breeze blowing off the snow-covered Rocky Mountains west of us. Yep, snow-covered, but not for long. Environment Canada promised the new snow would melt in a day.

This year was especially nice because this hinge of the seasons corresponded to a hinge in writing. Last week I finished the first draft of a book; this week I’m starting draft two. Between those two things I had to transfer multiple comments to my files. I’ve been fortunate for this book to belong to an in-person critique group and to have some other readers, too.

There I was, faced with several inches of hard-copy chapters and about a dozen Word files with track changes. The critique group had talked about different ways to combine files and compare changes, so I was all set until the slap-the-forehead moment when it dawned on me that I write in Scrivener, not in Word.

While it’s easy to compile, convert, and export chapters from Scrivener to Word documents; it’s not possible — or if it is I haven’t figured out how to do it — to import comments from Word documents into Scrivener.

Fortunately I was able to work a kluge that involved copying-and-pasting. The process took a little longer than I’d planned, but worked and eventually got me ready to start the next draft.

Here are some things I’ve learned about managing scores of comments from many kind-hearted and talented people.

I really, really, really should have entered comments after each critique group meeting, rather than trying to review over thirty chapters at once. Next time I promise to do better.

Devoting a notebook solely to critique notes was exactly the right thing to do. We usually submit three or four chapters at one time, and this notebook would have worked even better if I’d bothered to make a note about which chapter comments related to.

No matter how many negative comments other people have about a certain passage, some ideas are worth fighting for. The trick is to figure out why you love that particular material and everyone else hates it, and then change it so that you all love it.

I told people in advance that while I appreciated their line edits, I intended to ignore wording, punctuation, spelling, and grammar corrections unless the mistake makes a real difference in the sentence’s meaning. By the time I finish second and third drafts, chances are a lot of those errors will have self-corrected or have been deleted.

Color-code comments in the draft so that, if I have a question, I know which of my critique buddies to call for clarification. Fortunately, that’s something that Scrivener makes easy to do.

Keep a sense of humor. No, I did not intend to convert an innocent sentence into a scatological comment, but it was uproariously funny, and totally inappropriate for a family-oriented manuscript.

Quote for the week
Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It is one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.
~ Nicholas Sparks, American novelist, screenwriter and producer

The second most enjoyable moment in writing is rewriting the first page of the second draft and watch how the bumps smooth out.
~ Sharon Wildwind, Canadian novelist and baby playwright

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