I’m thrilled to welcome crime author Cass Green to the blog today to talk about revising. You can find her first draft process HERE.
Caroline Green is an award-winning, best-selling author of fiction for both young people and adults. Her first book, Dark Ride, won the Waverton Good Read Award and the RoNA Young Adult Novel of the year in 2011. Cracks, her second book, was nominated for nine awards and featured on Radio Four’s Open Book as one of its teen reads of 2013. Hold Your Breath, her third, won the Oldham Brilliant Book Award for the Young Adult category. Writing as Cass Green, her adult debut The Woman Next Door was a Number 1 e-book bestseller. In A Cottage, In A Wood is her second adult novel.
Caroline works extensively in schools teaching creative writing and is currently Writer in Residence at East Barnet School and teaches Writing for Children at City UniversityYour first daft has been completed, what state is it generally in?
A pretty shoddy one, as a rule! I write fairly fast, generally, and so there are always a fair number of mistakes. But the main thing is that it is all very rushed and there is no depth. I need to add detail after the first draft.
What is the first thing do before you start to revise?
I will either print the whole thing, or send it to my Kindle. I have to see it in a different format to be able to switch my brain over from Writer Mode to Reader/Editor Mode.
How do you assess the damage that needs working on?
I’m usually a bit rubbish at this so…
Do you allow anyone to read that very first draft before revisions or can you assess it objectively yourself?
…I get a trusted friend to read it first, then my agent. He (Mark Stanton at JBA) is an ex-editor and has a brilliant eye. He usually comes back with editorial notes… and lots of them.
What do you initially focus on, when approaching the completed first draft of the manuscript?
I try and fix the big issues first, so I’ll look at where sections need amending or re-writing. Then I’ll work on the small stuff, once I’ve got a clearer view of where I am.
Do you have any rituals, writing or real-world, when revising a manuscript?
No, and if anything, this part feels much more like ‘work’ and therefore not as creative. So I don’t listen to music, as I would when first drafting, or care so much about where I am writing.
In what format do you revise, paper or computer?
Computer for me.
How messy is the revision process – can you go in and repair areas or does the whole manuscript get decimated?
Until fairly recently I got quite anxious about the messiness of Track Changes. It started to get very confusing. So I took the advice of a writer friend and kept a note of what must be done, then turned them off. It helped a lot!
Is revision an overhaul of the story or is it minor editing?
Gosh, it can really be both!
Depends on where I am in the process.
What’s the biggest change you’ve made to a story during this process?
The Woman Next Door had an entire storyline removed in the first edit! Several characters, various plotlines…they all had to go!
When first drafting, many writers keep track of progress by counting words in a day. How do you make sure you’re progressing as you’re revising?
I feel a real sense of urgency because find revising quite anxiety-inducing. I mean, ‘what if I can’t make it work?. ‘what if it is too broken to fix?’…that kind of thing! So I want to feel back in control as soon as I can, I think.
Do you prefer to write the first draft or do you prefer the revision process?
I prefer the first draft when there are major changes. But if it is just tweaking, I enjoy that too.
What do you drink while you’re working?
Coffee, tea, water. Occasionally a glass of wine but only one or shall I shart writing shome gibberishhhhhhh.
How long does this process take and what shape is the book now in?
As I say, I’m keen to get through this bit usually, so I try to work quickly and turn it round in less than a month.
Thanks for showing us the inner workings!
Pleasure. Thank you for having me!
You can find Cass on her Website | Facebook | Twitter
The Woman Next Door
A No.1 e-book bestseller, perfect for fans of Her by Harriet Lane and In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.
Two suburban women. Two dark secrets. The almost perfect murder.
Everybody needs good neighbours…
Melissa and Hester have lived next door to each other for years. When Melissa’s daughter was younger, Hester was almost like a grandmother to her. But recently they haven’t been so close.
Hester has plans to change all that. It’s obvious to her that despite Melissa’s outwardly glamorous and successful life, she needs Hester’s help. But taking help from Hester might not be such a good idea for a woman with as many secrets as Melissa…
Margot Kinberg says
It’s always so helpful to see how others go about the revision process. Thanks, both! And I agree: fix the major things first, and then the smaller ones. Wishing you much continued success.
Alex J. Cavanaugh says
She lets someone see the first draft – how brave!
Annalisa Crawford says
I adore the messiness of Track Changes. I’m currently editing, and I’m always upset if a page is clean – I fear I’ve missed something!
Cass Green says
Thanks for your comments! Alex, I’m terribly needy…. knowing I’m on track via my agent really helps me move forwards!