Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Teaser Tuesday (sort of)

Okay, so I wasn't planning on posting a snippet of THREE NINJA PIGS, but a comment on my last post got me thinking...

Suzanne from Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness, wrote "I just read something that said a good revision changed or removed every, single word of the first draft."

Whoa! My OCD tendencies immediately kicked in.

Every single word! Is that possible? Have I ever done that? Have I come close? Have any of you?

I looked back at my first draft of Pigs and compared it to my most recent. (Since it is a fractured fairy take, the structure of the story really didn't change at all.)

Not going to bore you with my detailed analysis, but here is a sample to give you an idea of how much has been altered.

BEFORE (1st draft)

The wolf looked at Pig 3’s stance
And noticed the black belt on her.
“Though I’d like a good meal,
I’ve gotta be real.
Against you I’d be a goner.

AFTER (Draft submitted to my agent*)

The wolf saw that he was outrivaled
He shuddered and shivered with fear.
“Though I do love to dine
on succulent swine,
I’d best get the heck outta here!”

As you can see, the premise stayed in tact, but nearly all the actual words have changed.

* This stanza has since changed again.


storyqueen said...

I agree with the quote about changing everything about the first draft....and then again I don't.

Some books, I have drafted several ways before they came out right, but I don't know if I consider the different versions revisions or not. (But when you think about the word "revision" it means to see something again....so maybe the multiple possibilities are really revisions.


(I have written a few things "right" or almost right the first time.......but on most I was not that lucky.)


Unknown said...

Every word? No way. But every word should def be questioned.

(PS: I totally don't get into picture books, but I AM LOVING THREE NINJA PIGS! And that's after only the first stanza.)

Anna Staniszewski said...

This happened to me with a book that I've been working on for a few years. I look at it now and it's almost unrecognizable from the first draft; the main characters are the same and the overall idea hasn't changed much, but the specifics have morphed into something completely separate from the original. I wouldn't say that every single project needs this kind of huge and total revision, but some of them do seem to require it in order to feel "right."

Casey Something said...

Oh, I love the second version so much!

When I'm done with this rewrite, I think I'll be able to say I changed about 99% of the words. Hold me.


I can't wait to see Ninja Pigs in print!

B.J. Anderson said...

Lol, sounds like a fun story! And that's interesting about changing every word. I don't think I've done that, but then again, I haven't compared first drafts to last drafts before. :)

BJW said...

Sometimes for picture book revisions, I completely put away the finished draft (whichever one it is), then just try to write it again without looking at my first draft at all. Kind of helps me get to the essence of what I'm trying to do without being bound by "my precious" words, gollum, gollum.

Tess said...

Just because "someone" says it doesn't make it true. Who is this elusive 'someone' anyway? lol!

Love the snippit. very fun!

Deb Markanton said...

Isn't it funny that we agonize over it so much? It's like anything; fly fishing, riding a bike, a new job. A new book requires the same kind of forgiving attitude. We know we are capable of doing it, we just need a little practice with it. Each new book is a new "practice with it". Doesn't matter if you've written ten books, the new one is...new.

lisa and laura said...

Such a cute concept! Can't wait to read the published version.

I can't even bring myself to consider changing all 75,000 of our words. In our current revision we'll probably end up changing half and that alone is killing me.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Sort of? That was a big tease! And I have changed a LOT of words, but I don't know about ALL of them...

batsick said...

Really sounds fun!!!

Corey Schwartz said...

Wow! I love waking up to 11 comments!

Beth, it's not the first stanza. It's actually close to the end, but i picked it because it has changed yet again and I get nervous about posting stuff that may be in the actual story.

No one else seems to have concerns about it, but I heard that if it is online that constitutes published and might interfere with first rights.

Did I mention I am a worrier? (in addition to being obsessive!)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Corey: Love the snippet!
I hope some others who have insider info will chime in on your comment about first rights. Since so many bloggers post snippets or put up parts for critique that would be significant, if true. I believe if it's just a tiny amount it should be fine. If someone put up their entire work that would amount to published.
On the subject of writing the second draft from scratch, I was given that advice in an online course. And I found I am writing my second draft fresh. I've grabbed bits from the first but mostly I'm layering characterization deeper this time with new scenes.

Stephanie Faris said...

Every single word? That's ridiculous. That's just a complete rewrite. It all just depends on the author AND the book. I've changed entire scenes. Recently an agent wanted me to change my book from young adult to middle grade so I just rewrote the whole thing from the beginning because it was like trying to turn an egg into a cheeseburger. You can't do it. But every word of a manuscript that doesn't need to be completely changed? Why?

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Changing every word is HUGE, but I agree with others who commented that every word needs to be examined.

Love your before and after example too!

Susan R. Mills said...

Okay, this just scares me! I could have sworn I left a comment here already, but it's not here, so let me try again. I would die if I had to remove every single word. I guess I'll have to take a closer look at my revisions. Thanks for the post. It's a good one!

BookChook said...

I'm really careful about posting online too, Corey - I think you're being prudent. And I love the second version - the rhythm is superb!

Rebecca Gomez said...

I could see this happening with a rhyming story quite a bit, because usually I get the story right before I work out all the kinks in the rhyme and meter. But with a prose story? That seems rather drastic. I think for every single word to move or change would mean you have to start with a pretty cruddy first draft.

Stephanie Faris was right, I think. Changing/moving every word is a complete rewrite, not a revision.

myrna rosen said...

just write your final draft first..;-]

that makes about the same amount of
sense as rewriting every word. but what do i know...i'm only the mother of a writer (!)

Corey Schwartz said...

Becky, I agree. Much more likely to happen with rhyme than with prose!

Kristin said...

I think every word should be taken into consideration for sure. Oh how I love the second version! Its changed?!?! It must be even better. Brilliant idea.

Anonymous said...

A first draft is destined to stink, but I've never smelled one so putrid that every word had to be dumped in the garbage.

I agree things may be different with poetry than prose, especially rhyming tales. (I also recall your early draft of HOP PLOP and how significantly that changed.)

But I don't know if you can quantify the definition of revision. Certainly changing a dozen words doesn't cut it, but to keep going until you replace them all doesn't sound right, either. It's more about your satisfaction and the agreement of trusted critique partners than word count.

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow ... your second draft is amazing! I don't think I've ever changed/removed ALL the words ... hmmmmm.