Making Your Revisions Count

My wife and I have a family friend staying over tomorrow evening and we decided to rearrange some things, put up some new shelves, and just generally tidy up the house. We went as far as switching our office and guest bedrooms, which took up a good chunk of the weekend.When we finished, the house had a fresh, new look. It was still the same familiar house, but was jazzed up a bit with the rearranged rooms and new shelves. And overall, we both agreed that it looked better than when we’d started.

This “revision” of our home is a lot like the revision process in writing. After completing a first draft, there are often one or many revisions that may be needed, whether it be of your own doing or that of your editor or critique group.

You may need to move whole sections of your work (rearrange rooms), add new elements (shelves), or just tidy up a bit. Whatever the revisions may be, your ultimately going for a fresh, improved story.

It may be that you have no issues with your work when you complete the first draft. You may be perfectly fine with how the chapters fit together, and thus don’t see a need for changes. Or, maybe you revise each chapter as you go along (this is why my first drafts always take me forever to write) to lessen the blow for later revisions.

Whatever the case may be, if you want your writing to shine with the fresh coat of wax a revision can offer, you can’t be afraid of change. You should expect change at the onset of your writing, knowing that things will be different at the end of the road.

When I set out to tearing down my desk and prepping our home office for relocation, I wasn’t sure what the end result would be, or how I would like it. I was fine with the status quo. But it turns out that I prefer things the way they are now.

Here are a few things to consider when making revisions:

  • Begin with the end in mind – You are revising because you have the need to improve your last draft. Set goals around the changes you want to make, and stick to them.
  • When in doubt, throw it out – You’re the boss of your writing, so don’t be afraid to “fire” any part of your story that you feel is not a good fit. Even if that particular part is your favorite, be honest with yourself about what your story needs.
  • Say it loud and proud – As you revise, read your writing aloud to yourself. You may find parts that need rewording or don’t fit altogether. This will also help you actually hear your writing voice, which is an important part of what makes your writing unique.

Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com has a great post on the revision process, which he wrote for those completing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWroMo). Larry’s blog is a great resource for writers, if you’re not already familiar with it.

So let me know…How do you revise? Do you blast through the first draft and make many changes at the end, or do you revise as you go?

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About The Weekend Writer

I've had a passion for the written word ever since I learned to hold a pencil. I wrote prolifically in my youth, but less as I grew older. Now, I write around a full-time life like many of you. I hope to share encouragement, success stories, and helpful information with fellow writers of all stages, including weekend writers like myself.

Posted on March 11, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Great points, Todd! Revision is tough, but things usually work out better int he end.

    ~Debbie

  2. Loved the graphic. It’s nice to see something like writing so neatly summed up.

    The one thing I would add to your revisions list is to begin with looking at the subplots. It si very likely that the subplots didn’t get the sort of attention that the main plot did. A well written subplot will only make the main plot stand out even more. Subplots need love too.

  3. Thank you for the blog post. Jones and I happen to be saving to buy a new e-book on this topic and your post has made us all to save our own money. Your thinking really resolved all our questions. In fact, above what we had acknowledged previous to the time we ran into your wonderful blog. I no longer nurture doubts and also a troubled mind because you have attended to our own needs here. Thanks

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