Friday, May 7, 2010

The reviser and the revised

I started revising just one particular part of How to See the Elephant in February and it snowballed to the whole thing but I can definitely say now I'm almost done. This week I re-read it backwards, starting with the last chapter and working back through the book. I'm not sure what gave me the idea to do this but I thought it would give me a new perspective on the separate parts of the book and sort of get me out of the familar groove (you know -- when you've read the paragraphs so many times you don't really see them anymore.) I'm also not sure it was a really helpful idea, on the whole. For one thing, when I finally got to the first chapter, it seemed flat. Of course, reading backwards is a decrescendo so naturally it would be flat, right? (It doesn't seem flat when I read it forwards.) But maybe there is something in that chapter that I'm missing and ought to be looking at.
Anyway, this has left me in a doldrums kind of mood and a serious question about revising. When I rip up paragraphs and passages and write new scenes, am I really making it better? Or does it just seem better when I re-read it because it's new?


Mary Aalgaard said...

Interesting. I read another blogger who read her friend's novel backwards like that. She liked the new perspective. Maybe your first chapter does need a bit more flair. Does it need more action? Does the story start better at chapter 2? Just some thoughts.

Just Another Sarah said...

I hate first chapters.

I tagged you on my blog, though.