Congratulations. You've just written your first (or maybe fifth) novel. The hours of research, of staring at your computer screen, of sore hands aching after typing at the speed of light, and headaches from days of writers block and self loathing have finally culminated into a completed, and in your honest option, fabulous work.
You've taken the obligatory break from your work; those few days, weeks, or sometimes months that most writers take after finishing a new book to give them distance and clarity. Stepping back allows for objective ability, and a sense of detachment that is necessary before this next, and just as important step.
Now, if you're anything like me, the word makes you cringe. I bloody hate revision. More than the sore hands, more than the writers block. It is the part of the writing process that I absolutely suck at, the ability to read back over my work with an objective eye, and catch all the things that I missed, misspelled, or that need changing. I know it is an important part of the process, and welcome it whole heartedly. I just suck at it, if I am being completely candid, and it is something I just don't have a knack for. Even some of my writing crew love to be able to make fun of me for my 'lack of editing'. Any time I write a new piece, either for the blog, for Fangirlish, or for my Wattpad novels, they love saying 'did you edit?' or 'did you read it over'? A friendly teasing, with a touch of truth, because my answer every time is no.
But, it is necessary. The art of improving the perfected, of making the little changes that increase your works draw and imagery.
So, for this post, I've decided to include some comments and statements about the art of revision by those we all wish we could emulate....the writers!
“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain
“Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings)…I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: ‘Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.’ — Stephen King
“I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” Truman Capote
“Read over your compositions and, when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”
— Samuel Johnson
“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” — Roald Dahl
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” — Saul Bellow
Now clearly, this particular blog post does not tell you HOW to revise. It gives no tips on what to look for, on how to make changes and improve structure. That is another post entirely. This one is mainly to impress the importance, universally, of that dreaded stage all writers tend to loathe despite its necessity, and give a little insight into how those we admire feel about it.
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