Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Revisions – Ugh

So this is another post I also have posted over at Kristie Britt's blog.

The Necessity of It All

So, no doubt about it, revisions are necessary. There is no way you’re ever going to write the perfect first draft. If you ever think so, well, sorry, but you’re wrong. In my own opinion, one of the mistakes we make early in the writing game is thinking that our draft only really needs a grammar check and a very minor facelift. Maybe I’m just a very flawed writer, but I usually find some big things I end up wanting to change. Of course, I don’t plan out my drafts so that’s probably part of the reason I personally need to do so much revising/editing, but no matter what, I think a writer can always find areas to improve.

A Little Help in the Revision Process

Of course, like I said, I’m not a planner. Planning out your book could really help cut down on the number of revisions necessary. Actually, I’m currently reading a book that came highly recommended by a ton of different people called Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.
This post by Jami Gold discusses this book and breaks down the recommendations made by the book into a nice and easy to use spreadsheet format.
Larry Brooks is all about planning, and he’s a bit down on people like me who don’t plan, but, as he very realistically points out, that’s just fine so long as you’re willing to do the extra revisions.

I have tried so many different things to try to get my novels where I need them, including, for some of my last books, abandoning them when I started to realize that the plot just wasn’t original or interesting enough. But one of the most helpful things you can do is get an outside set of eyes on the book. A good critique partner can really help you know where your book starts to get bogged down. They’ll also have input on what they want more and less of, which is incredibly helpful for revisions.

Why am I Doing This Again? Oh Yeah. To Get Published.

There are so many reasons your book might have gotten bogged down. Maybe you absolutely fell in love with an idea and got a little too involved in explaining it. Maybe you just have too much back-story in too many large chunks. Maybe there’s a whole expendable section of your book that just isn’t worth keeping. Who knows? The point is, you’ve got to be willing to get rid of big chunks of your writing, listen to criticism you respect, and learn to identify some of the slower sections of your own writing.

Pacing is very important in keeping your audience captivated, and revisions are one of the best ways to keep the pace moving. (My fellow blogger/writer Saybe Scott recently did a helpful post on pacing that included some good links)

Revisions are rough. Good luck, everyone!


  1. Thanks for the link! :)
    I made that mistake with my earliest ones, thinking all they needed was minor fixes. I didn't get a proper critique partner till my third novel. It was the first of my books I really fell in love with and took seriously, perhaps no coincidence.

    That last point you make, about cutting out parts, is probably the hardest for a young (experience-wise) writer to come to grips with. I was so reluctant to part with anything I'd written in my first critiqued novel, feeling, I guess, that if I'd written it it must be important and necessary. I'm much better about that now. ;)

    1. Now that you mention it, I do remember being incredibly reluctant to get rid of sections I liked when I started really editing. Now I guess I've just become more used to the fact that that's what I've gotta do. I delete all sorts of things I like now.

      It's still a bit sad, though.