Saturday, June 2, 2012

The no-regret revision

So I'm deep into draft three of my Work In Progress and it's involving a lot of revising. I want to encourage people not to be afraid of revising. I know, it's a crapload of hard work, sometimes. In my case, I'm tossing out scenes, adding others that had never occurred to me before, changing names of a few minor characters, and removing whole threads of subplot that seemed so important way back in draft one.

image photo : Mind powerBut I look at it this way. First, those changes are resulting in a story that's more interesting for me to tell. I've referred before to changing Sandy's personality; now that he's more 3D, I find I'm enjoying his scenes a lot more. By adding an additional, more personal reason for Neal wanting to get out of the street gang he was part of--and putting more emphasis on how the loss of his kids affected him--I'm fascinated by his gentler side that didn't have a chance to show itself before.

I'm creating new scenes, which I love because it's like seeing new sides of your best friend. You find more things to like about them, and occasionally dislike. But I even have fun with that! It's truly a process of getting to know these people.

I'm paying a certain amount of attention to details as I revise. The more sentence tweaking I can do in this draft, the less I'll (probably) have to do later, though Draft 3 is still an early one. I don't get hung up on word choice or paragraph structure. By now, I have a good sense of the "feel" I want for the story. And because I've learned to trust my inner editor about when something seems wrong, I stop immediately when I sense that something's out of place and try to fix it. If I can't fix it in a few minutes, it can wait.

So revising is actually keeping the story fresh for me. I realize that once I get the plot kinks worked out and go back for fine tuning, I may feel a bit jaded. Still, I'm learning stuff as I continue to do research and since I love what I'm researching, it doesn't feel like work. I don't imagine the research will fully end because it may come in handy for the next book *wink*

The other thing is, once the story gets published, readers will only know that version. Everything should feel natural and easy to readers, as if the whole thing fell out of my computer in that form. That's what matters, not me crying over taking out something that I like even though it doesn't fit.

image photo : Love or Fear Change - Embrace Different ThingsRun with your revisions! Let them open up new vistas! This is what you do--telling stories. Changing them is part of the process. The more new things you can learn about your characters and/or plot, the more exciting it will be and the better your story will be. Does anybody have any examples of how revising added some juice to their project? How do you keep yourself interested through all the changes?


  1. Great post! I'm in 'Revision Hell' at the moment. I find myself cutting scenes, adding subplots (to deepen motivations and goals), and writing scenes that seem so important now. In my first draft I included WAY to much backstory about minor characters...that the reader doesn't care about!

  2. Hi Christina, thanks for your input. There are sure times when revising gets hairy, I won't deny that. Try to keep the big picture in mind, and maybe it won't hurt quite as much :)