I Actually Love Revising

I know, I know. That’s a big claim to make. And not a popular one either. That would be like saying I don’t like lolcats. WHICH IS UNTRUE.

Although this is how I feel when revising doesn't go well.

I’ve been reading writing blogs for a while and I’ve learned this: many writers abhor don’t particularly enjoy revising. Well, I’m here to say, proudly, that I do! I may like it more than drafting, but I’ll be honest, it’s been over a year since I wrote a first draft (tear, sniff, sob).

To me, revising is like putting a puzzle together. First I get all of the critiques/notes back from my professor/writing group/mailman. And at first, I’m really, really excited about everything they’ve suggested.

“Brilliant!”

“Why didn’t I think of that?”

“Of course a penguin would be a better costume! The metaphor!”

BUT, there are still a lot of suggestions that don’t have easy answers. So, I let it stew.

Sometimes for a while.

*Checks watch*

*Checks calendar*

That’s about right. And then I get started on the small fixes first. The easy ones like: “Worded awkwardly, is what I think of this sentence.” Re-write said sentence and BAM! Done.

Eventually I run out of small stuff to fix. And it’s time for the big ones. This is where I pull out my handy-dandy notebook.

This was literally a result for the images search "handy-dandy notebook."

I scroll through my manuscript to the first problem and start taking down notes. Okay, this scene doesn’t seem to be working hard enough. Should I move it? Do I need to amp up the tension? Should I just cut it all together? Usually, I can find a solution without too much trouble or involving other scenes in the book. Sometimes, though, it gets more complicated than that. I have to move the scene (this happened a lot in my latest revision of Red Sky). That involves a lot of adding and subtracting from the scenes around it.

Other times the scene needs to be reworked completely. Like, I like the idea of it, but it’s not working. So, it gets rewritten. But say there are lines from the previous incarnation that I really, really like. As I write, I might find ways to use them. If not, those darlings are MURDERED.

The end result is a draft that I feel is tighter, more engaging, better written, and just plain AWESOME. Of course, the ultimate goal is to need less of these bigger-types of revisions. I haven’t gotten that far yet with either of my manuscripts. But that’s okay! Because I’m enjoying the revising in the meantime.

Some strategies I want to incorporate in future books: keeping lists of each char’s motivations (via Veronica Roth), use Scrivener, have some sort of board (inspired by Miss Cole) where I can write out all of the chapters and what happens plot-wise in each (to check on my pacing and what not).

And, on a related note, I’ve been thinking some time about Sparks–mostly, concerns and doubts about the plot. A recent shredding critique from my writing group confirmed my fears. The book needs an entire over haul. At first, I was just going to shelf it for a few months while I contemplated what direction to take it. I don’t want to stash it permanently because I love the characters. Love them so. dang. much. But I didn’t think I had the attention/energy to rework the plot right now, with school and all that. Then on Friday night, while laying in bed wide awake in the middle of the night, I thought of the beginning of my solution. And a new opening! And of course I had to go write it right then and there! So I did! And now I’m excited about the story. I’m definitely going to cut some characters, and it will probably change from a trilogy to a two-part series. But that’s okay! Because I still get to play with Vi and all her friends. And my love for the story has been rekindled. So … yay!

One more lolcat for the road.

What about you? Do you like revising? What is your process? Have any tips you care to share? (Because sharing is caring, and rhyming is fun.)

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8 thoughts on “I Actually Love Revising

  1. I like revising better than drafting, too, but it’s mostly the polishing the words part that I like, not the puzzle solving. I guess I just like to have something on the page to work with. Let me know how Scrivener works out for you. I’ve been thinking about trying it.

    • I’ll for sure let you know! I’ll probably wait until the new year to buy it though, because I have a ton of expenses for school coming up. (Or… maybe I should just ask for it for my birthday, in November. I like that idea.)
      I’ll let you know!

  2. MURDER YOUR DARLINGS AND REVEL IN IT!!!

    *Cough*

    As you’ve probably guessed, I have something of a love/hate relationship with editing. I’m currently cycling back into love ;)

    White board post is coming Friday. It’s very excited for its moment to shine!

  3. I love revising too! It’s all I’ve been doing lately, because I have a backlog of stories that need it (well, actually I’ve gone through a considerable portion), but I’m starting to fear for the amount of time I’ll go without first drafting, too.

    But like you, I love it so much more when only small changes are needed. Moving scenes is the hardest part; no matter what I do, I always feel like it’ll be obvious I just plopped a scene somewhere it doesn’t belong. These days I try to have at least two drafts done before I let anyone see anything, and hope by then I’ve caught most of the big stuff. We’ll see. I’ve got my most recently finished manuscript out with a beta right now who’s harsh but fair, and I’m a bit nervous since I don’t think it’s her type of story in general (like, not one she’d be inclined to pick up in a book store, although I trust her to separate that sort of personal opinion from her critique of the work itself. But you never know, maybe she’ll like it anyway…)

    And don’t feel bad about books needing an overhaul. While I love my first and fourth books, my second and third (which were part of one big saga) are total messes and are going to be trunked for a while longer. I love the characters and the idea for the plot, but there was just too much going on!

    As for murdering those pretty phrases you like but don’t fit, it gets easier with time. I barely flinch when I kill most of them these days.

    • “but I’m starting to fear for the amount of time I’ll go without first drafting, too.”
      I hear ya on that! I’m actually kinda scared about starting over on Sparks because I haven’t drafted beginning-to-end in over a year! Ahhh!

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