The Coven Circle of Revising


All chapters lined up to be put in circle.

All chapters lined up to be put in circle.

I’m all for mind magic, imagination, flights of fantasy, intelligent alter egos, and inviting muses, guardian angels, and ghosts. I’ll take my help from a gifted teacher, luck, a chance remark by a waitress, or a homeless person with something meaningful to say.

Especially at this point in writing a book-length manuscript. Here’s where I’ve been so far in this tumultuous historical fiction relationship.

There was a flash of inspiration. (Is that heaven or hell?)
It fermented to obsessive size.
I semi-organized thoughts and notes and wrote it. Three hundred eleven pages.
I am now overwhelmed by the changes, details, and story flummoxes that need fixing.

This doesn’t feel like the holy grail of fun novel writing. It feels like washing and waxing a Greyhound bus after a hurricane. On a hot summer day. In the sun. Alone.
It is book #5 and this is what works best for me at this point.

Hail in the muses! Invite ghosts and sprites of intuition. Ransack! With intent, pillage creativity. Make every word, idea, and scene justify itself to survive.Tell fear, exhaustion, impatience, and the nauseatingly prim Mistress of Time Management to vamoose.

Welcome to the Coven Circle of Revising. The steps:

Circle arranged.

Circle arranged.

1. Paperclip all chapters separately.

2. Arrange in circle.

3. Step in circle and commune. After judgment is gagged and tied in a dark basement or thrown over the fence to neighbor’s yard, open the heart and mind. Invite the chapters to chat amiably, productively, without my interference. Let them discuss the matter privately while I go about my life. They are as free as I am. They are to consider their combined future, I am to enjoy life without them. Eavesdropping only happens in night dreams. Let chapter discussion continue uninterrupted for a minimum of three to seven days.

Left to their own devices.

Left to their own devices.

Full moon is preferred, but the Creator of All Things does not require a puny night light to work.

4. Step into circle and proceed to listen to best points of discussion. Make note.

5. Revise.

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26 Responses to The Coven Circle of Revising

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Revising can definitely feel overwhelming at times. I’ve never tried the circle technique though. Might have to give it a go. 😉

    Good luck!

  2. If you do, please let me know what you think. One way or another our projects get completed, don’t they?

  3. Lani says:

    Hahaha. Very cute. I remember when I wrote on postcards my book’s chapters and then the cat came over to investigate, and well, that changed that.

  4. ibdesignsusa says:

    Interesting idea and bet that it helps. I love reading but never have written a book. I could see where revising could get overwhelming.

  5. I know the feeling. Editing and revising are what I enjoy but only if I don’t need to move the chapters around. What’s save my sanity if that’s necessary are index cards with a sentence or two describing each chapter. It’s easier moving the cards around than the actual paper-clipped chapters. May the muse be with you. 🙂

  6. Amy says:

    That is such a long process. I admire your diligent work and wonderful mind magic, imagination…

  7. Thanks for the compliment, but I think I just had to follow where my mind went. Not all of it seemed like choice. Well, maybe choice for use of mind instead of craziness of mind. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Magic, I love it. The chapters edit themselves. Send me your spell. I promise to keep it to myself. 🙂 –Curt

  9. A little mind trickery goes a long way. I’ll see what I can do to send it.

  10. Tom Merriman says:

    I haven’t even got that far with my writing, Rebecca. Maybe I should start off with blank pages arranged around me in a circle and see what happens there? I sometimes let the characters lead the tale but this is approaching the challenge from a completely different angle. I like it!

  11. Sue Slaght says:

    I love your sense of humour in what must be a daunting task. Best of luck with the process!

  12. Argus says:

    The Blizzard method of revision is often helpful (a variant on the old ’52 card pickup’ card game that kept us happy as kids).

    These days I do everything on the computer and print only at the very end.

    I think printed books are a dying breed, that e-books are the incoming way of the future—no need to sell to a blasted agent, editor, or publisher; you can do it all for free on the web; the gatekeepers are down. BUT: the competition is unbelievable … good luck~!

    • Yes, the competition is unbelievable. And to think I thought it was awful years ago when all bestsellers trickled from sit-in-his-chair-one-world-view publishers out of Manhattan. 52 card pickup for revision? That sounds scary to me, like starting completely over.

      • Argus says:

        Sometimes a a good random shuffle produces results that a logical mind might overlook. Change of perspective, in time or space.

        I love simultaneous evolution in which two streams develop quite unaware of each other, and then … WHAMMO … they meet …

  13. I’ve wondered about that. Sometimes it does seem the greater the mix-up, the greater the results.

  14. sara says:

    omg I adore your process 🙂 i also love your analogy of editing as a waxing a greyhound bus alone after a hurricane 🙂 Awesome stuff.

  15. Thanks for visiting my blog. This is a very good post. (Oops, used ‘very’, thus breaking writing rule #3,368 – paused to slap himself before continuing.) Yes, writing a novel and then revising it is indeed a monumental task. I like your approach. Oh, and that bloody Mistress of Time Management has been bugging you too has she? Can’t stand her.

    • That #3,368. It’s very obviousness gets me every time. Don’t slap yourself though, unless it’s to get a bride’s blush in the cheek. Yes, the Mistress has been very demanding lately though I’m beginning to suspect it’s because she feel threatened because I no longer care as much for her. Thanks so much for coming by.

  16. livelytwist says:

    Lol, all the best! Distance certainly helps revision, at least for me. So yes, let the chapters commune without you 🙂

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