Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Looking For a Ball of Yarn

The title is an oblique (obscure, actually) reference to Theseus, who would have perished in the labyrinth had not Ariadne supplied him with a ball of yarn which he unwound as he penetrated the maze, then followed back to the entrance on his way out.


I've got another couple of weeks before I dive into an edit of the Magnus Somnium. I've revised before: short stories, the coffin novel (it's like a trunk novel, but I'd like to bury it), etc. However, I've never really had an efficient system and I've often wondered if, in revising using my own subjective techniques, I've inadvertently made my work worse instead of better.

So I'm looking for some tips on finding my way out of the maze of revision.

1) What's the best book out there on revision technique?

2) What's your approach?

3) What's for lunch? (unrelated, but I've just finished off some leftovers from last night and they're not sitting well).


csmith said...

First off - Lovely title.

Not that I have much to say on how to revise, except that I approach it like I'd do a drawing, after having something decent (which I don't at the moment) - an overall scan to ensure it sticks together, detailed line by line edit, and another overall scan to ensure the end product sticks together!

As for dinner - I just had some fish and fresh spinach. Hope your leftovers feel better soon. Wait. Hope YOU feel better soon.

slcard said...

Two posts in one day, and right after a post. Wow, it's like it's raining vegan gummie bears.

First, since I'm chatting anyway, I might as well say how amused I was by yesterday's post. For me, that was you at your best. You interest me... you amuse me... you cause me to grin so that I bet it's going to take awhile for my cheeks to relax... you end by making me burst out laughing. Ah, you're such a delight.

Now to the point:

1. I cannot recommend a book; I've never used one.

2. I don't think I'll tell you my approach, because you'll just frown. Oh okay, I will. I just do it. A little at a time. Over, and over, and over again until it feels right. Like one might trim a bonsai tree.

3. I was too busy for lunch today, but when I first found today's surprise posts around four, I was eating a veggie burger with too much barbecue sauce, and quickly followed it with a coffee I found in the car, which I had left there yesterday. I don't recommend either.

And finally, I liked the title too, but I wish you had not explained and given me time to figure it out. On second thought, I'm glad you did explain. I'm already distracted enough.

Ulysses said...

Your approach is similar to mine. I wonder if that's the only/best way to do things?

As for the digestive distress, fear not. As the bible says: "this too shall pass."

Ulysses said...

Vegan gummi bears? Do you mean that they are vegan products, or that they themselves eschew all animal products in their diets?

No matter.

The last time I tried trimming a hedge, I couldn't figure out where to stop in time and ended up reducing a rhododendron to an unattractive stump. The same thing occasionally happens to my writing. I've been known to edit material right out of readability.


slcard said...

Well it matters to me. Do you know how hard it is to find gummie bears not made with gelatin? Do you know how expensive the little beggars are? Of course, you would not know how much I love a gummie bear... a nice handful of them in a tiny brown bag... ahh.

As for the trimming. First, I knew you would frown. Second, that's why I do it just a little at a time. That's why it takes so long. I spend as much time looking at it as touching it. I do not recommend this way, but I don't know any other.

Good luck.