Last night I finished another edit of chapter two of Gods Among Men, …Awakens the Outer Circle…. During the editing process I used a recording of the Magic City Writers meeting where the chapter was reviewed and suggestions made. This is a practice I will continue to use.
I became aware of my need to make recordings some months after the OmegaCon convention in the spring of 2008 in Birmingham Alabama. It was the first time I ever attended writer panels and workshops. The experience was inspirational on many levels. It led me to recruit other aspiring writers into the group we now call the Magic City Writers. (Well, I call it that and no one so far has objected.)
Months went by and the OmegaCon convention retreated from my memories. The group’s reviews of my work accumulated. I began to see the limits of note taking. Moments that had major significance at the convention became vague recollections. Specific suggestions from the group were now cryptic notes even I couldn’t fully understand.
I began recording the group meetings, and at ImagiCon in 2009 I recorded all the panels I attended. I’m not sure I shall ever revisit the recordings of the panels, but the recordings of the meetings has proven invaluable.
My editing process has become this:
- Review the general comments each person wrote about my chapter and do an editing pass addressing those issues specifically.
- Go through the chapter line-by-line and check for any comments made about that specific line. Make changes as needed.
- Clean up any garbage I may have accidentally added in the first two steps.
- Listen closely to the recording of the meeting to see if I have missed anything major.
In each of times I’ve used these recordings I’ve discovered several major points not in any written notes or suggestions. Forgotten moments no longer than a minute or two, buried in several hours of recorded interplay. It is invariably a point when the conversation was flowing and ideas were being tossed about rapidly. Sometimes it is a point I made, an insight I had, which I failed to write down and have forgotten in the weeks after the meeting. Something that was impossible to pause and record on paper without dissipating the creative energy being produced.
When I find such a nugget I stop the playback and address the issue. Sometimes it takes minutes, sometimes hours. The end result is a block of writing that I can definitively state is better than it was before.
For me, recording group meeting and brainstorming sessions so I can replay them at least once is a crucial part of my writing process. It is the only way to be sure the final work is as strong as I can make it.