Friday, April 26, 2024

Revision List

 I’m behind. Again. We’re talking about revision. I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but revision is my favorite part of writing. I think I’ve also mentioned that how I come at revision is in the word itself. Re-vision. Once a draft is done, the revision process is my opportunity (and obligation) to look at the story with new eyes.

As I finish a draft, I keep a revision list. Once I type The End, I pack the WIP up, and I put it away for at least two weeks. I, too, am an intuitive writer. I feel my way through a story. Most of the time, that works really well, and revision is a minor affair. Most stories simply need a little tidy up. Most of my revision job is working through my list, tightening, calling myself out on my own BS – repeated words, gestures, over describing or over staging. I ensure that character arcs are fully realized. I make sure the plot holds together and drives from one end of the story to the other. Most of the time, my revision process is mostly about pruning to expose the trunk of the plot to air and light.

Then there are stories that need more. I’m working on a manuscript right now. This story needed to sit for years. I love the story. My beta readers like the story, too, and remember it even after all the time it needed to sit. It had to sit because all of us agreed that the story was flawed. Jeffe kindly read the story for me to help me identify the issues and she couldn’t finish the book. That confirmed for me that I had a major structural problem that I couldn’t diagnose. So, I shelved that story. I needed time and space before I tried to understand the issues.

It paid off. At least, I think it did. When I came back to the story and read it again, my story sense went off, immediately. The main character had no arc. She wasn’t driving the latter half of her story. That’s a pretty major issue. It required a serious rewrite of the second half of the book. That’s still in progress as a wrestle with the climax of the story and layer in ALL THE THINGS. This is the part of the book I really want to get right so it’s taking a frustrating amount of time while I obsess over it. I hope it pays off.

The biggest issue for me is that every story needs something different from a revision standpoint. I mean, the initial prerequisite is a finished draft. After that, though, each story dictates how I approach ripping and tearing at the guts. Some surgeries are less involved than others. Some are great big Frankenstein’s monster stitch jobs. And even then, I prefer revision to drafting. I probably need to be medicated for that.

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