Writers are filled with trepidation but I think the one area we spend far too much time bemoaning is the act of revision. We poured our heart and soul into the first draft. We shunned our friends and family in order to be focused on writing. We lost sleep and ate more than our fair share of chocolate. Everything came second to completing the first draft. We re-read it with pride and think to ourselves…
What perfection! Every reader is going to swoon and it could very well win the Pulitzer. 😉
We send it off to our editor/critique partner and wait for the compliments to start rolling in. We wait patiently and our hearts drop as we see the dreaded red pen comments.
This makes no sense.
Where did this character come from?
Drop this whole scene.
Revise. Revise. Revise.
Revision is where the true essence of a story reveals itself. The first draft is only the starting point. Revision is like a roller coaster ride. You start off slow and make the climb to the first descent. Everything is going smoothly and then your world is rocked as you plummet. The adrenaline rushes to your head as you fix one thing after another. With each revision, you ride the roller coaster and your story gets better. It doesn’t matter how many times you revise; what matters is that the revision works.
As a writer, I hate revising. Truthfully, it’s an ego thing. I know, I know, it sounds bad but I’m just being truthful. Those are my words, my characters, my dialogue, my story. I wrote it so it has to be perfect, right?
I’m too close to it to see its flaws. I need an unbiased person to help. That’s where an editor comes in. He/She sees what needs to stay and what needs to go. He/She points them out to me and I can make the necessary changes.
When I was working on Planting the Seeds of Love: A Novella with my editor, I chucked my ego and really listened to him. He wasn’t trying to crush me as a writer. He loved my story as much as I did and wanted it to succeed. I took his nudging advice and made my story even better. I got rid of the fluff and concentrated on the key aspects of the plot. Sure, it was hard and at the end, I was mentally exhausted. The result, though, is a beautiful story about family, falling in love and figuring out life in your early-twenties.
Are you suffering with revisions? Don’t know how you’ll make it through? Here are three quick tips to revising with ease:
-Take off your writer glasses. As writers, we see our work differently than others. Yes, this is your creation but in order for the world to love your story, you have to be willing to change things. Don’t be rigid. As Stephen King says, “Kill your darlings.” I hear groans all over the world but there’s truth to that statement. As a writer, you have to be willing to delete your favorite scene, character and subplot. It’s all for the betterment of the story.
-Put on your reader glasses. All of us are readers and we have an affinity for books. We have studied the craft of writing and want to tell our story in the best way possible. It’s all for the reader, right? So don your reader glasses and look at your story with fresh eyes. Pretend you don’t know anything about this story or any of the characters. As you are reading, take notes. If a question pops into your head, write it down. When you are through reading, go through your notes. Was there a missing character or did something not make sense? Fix what needs fixing, no matter how much it hurts. At the end of the day, you want nothing to stand between your story and the reader.
-Read through your editor’s notes three times before revising. Why three times? The first read is to see what the notes say. You may be offended or hurt by what is said. Don’t take it personally. Keep reading through. When you are finished with the first read, walk away. Take a few days off. Let the notes sink in. Don’t start revising.
The second read is to start brainstorming. Reworking scenes and characters takes time and when you read through the notes a second time, you will start to brainstorm how to make it work. Trust me when I say this takes time. Let your mind work through it.
The third time you read through the notes is when you come up with a plan of attack. Outline what needs to change and what needs to stay. If you need to flesh out a character, write down how you plan to do that. If you need to delete/create scenes, map out how the plot will change. This is also a perfect time to make sure you understand clearly what your editor is trying to tell you. If you have any questions about the notes, please take my advice and ask your editor to explain. You need to be on the same page, so to speak.
Revising doesn’t have to feel like going to the dentist. It can be fun, even, if you know how to approach it. Your editor is not out to get you or tell you what a horrible writer you are. You are a wonderful writer and have created a beautiful story. Revising is just trimming away the excess to reveal the Hope Diamond within.
Do you have any revision tips/tricks you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and if you liked this blog post, I’d appreciate it if you’d use the share buttons below. 🙂