The Art of Revision

Before I write, I always have two points.  The beginning and the end.  The middle I make up along the way.  When I finish a draft, I’m always thrilled that I was able to connect my points.  And then I do my happy dance (It’s like awesome in action! Someday I’ll vlog it).

Then I send my ms to my readers and they respond with ‘meh’ (and usually some good notes on how it can be less meh).  The happy dance stops, I lay on my bed for a couple of days, and contemplate different ways my story can get from A to B.  Usually there is a lot of whining and some “How in the world can I change it!  There is only one way to get from the beginning to the end!” 

But that’s so totally wrong.

I have a friend (I won’t say her name ’cause it might embarrass her), who is the Grand Master of Revision.  She can visualise like a half-dozen ways to change her story and they are all awesome.  She gives me hope that no matter how crappy my first draft is, there is always, always potential to improve it.

I want to be like her.  I want to be a REVISIONIST as well as a writer.

Any one have any favorite revision tips to share? 

12 Comments

  • Trisha Leaver

    First off I want to meet your friend the Revisionist. Sure could use her opinion on my WIP.

    I revise in layers. I used to look at my revision notes and try and fix everything at one, move through the chapters tweaking everything as I go. Now I revise in layers, making one change, adding one thread from beginning to end, then going back to chapter one and starting over again with the second thread.

    Does it take longer, am I reading/revising the same manuscript from beginning to end five or six times. Absolutely. But in the end, the time is worth it.

  • Nicole Krell

    I love to revise. When I got the revisions from my agent, I was super excited! Also, it helps that I have two awesome beta readers who aren’t afraid to tell me what needs to be changed.

  • Becky Wallace

    @Trisha Leaver: You know her pretty well! LOL.

    @Jess: Tripp will be fine. Promise!

    @Nicole: It’s the “this needs to change but I have no idea how to make that happen” that scares me!

  • Barbara Kloss

    I love how you said “less meh”…hahahaaa! But you know…sometimes you gotta write the story so you can write the story. 😀

    I’m with Trisha – I revise in layers. And that’s even after plotting my story extensively beforehand. But some things you just can’t see till you write them out and then as I’m writing I see ALL these things I need to fix. I’m getting better at leaving them till revisions. And revisions take, oh, FOREVER! But in the end, it’s totally worth the agonizing (and “less meh” advice, lol)

  • Lynn(e)

    From my experience, first drafts are ALWAYS crap, and they’re allowed to be. (I went to PNWA this last week, and they were blatantly like, WRITE TO SUCK! and then fix it.)I also write to connect points, and kind of word vomit until I get there.(Not sure if you’re the same way. Your story may not be MEH, but maybe the strength of it is, if that makes sense?

    I’ve heard don’t send your first draft to people, read through, strengthen, then send to readers. I’ve done both, and each time it always helps.

    Keep up the writing though, you’re a rockstar!

  • Avery Olive

    Great post, I often times have trouble visualizing that alternate route too. But I think that is part of the craft of writing, eventually, with more practise we will all become Revisionist’s.

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