Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hello from the Revision Cave

It's dark in here.

I knew my manuscript needed work, but I didn't realize how much.

So. Much.

It's funny, before I started writing seriously, back when I was just scribbling down stories for fun and only sharing them with a few people, I didn't realize how exhausting and arduous the editing process is. I thought it was just like the editing process we had in English class:

Step 1: The teacher reads what you've written and crosses out misspelled words, adds in punctuation marks you missed, etc.
Step 2: You write a new draft, incorporating those changes.
Step 3: You're done.

Right?

I had a conversation recently, in the past few months, with someone who thought the same thing. This person isn't a writer, and they thought when I said I was editing for days, that all I was doing was checking for minor errors. Which is a part of the revision process, yes. But what I happened to be working on was not as simple. It's more like:

Step 1: Receive notes from critique partners and consider their suggestions.
Step 2: Rewrite your first chapter.
Step 3: Take out that scene later in the story that your CPs said wasn't working and write something new in its place.
Step 4: Rewrite your first chapter again.
Step 5: Change your character's reaction to an event based on the new scene you wrote.
Step 6: Now revise all of the later chapters based on the character's new reaction.
Step 7: Rewrite your first chapter again.

And it keeps going.

Never mind all the grammatical edits that happen later on.

But you know, I'm okay with being smack in the middle of this misunderstood and complicated process. I'm okay with wanting to rip my hair out because I can't think of a way to make this scene work. (Please remind me later that I said this, okay?) It's part of my job.

If this is a "rough day at work," I'll take it. Because this is something that writers can, and do, get through.

Anyone have any tales from the revision cave?

6 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

Yes! Learning to edit has been a long process for me. I would say it took me years to really understand how to rip one of my drafts apart and I'm still learning how to put it back together in a stronger way! :)

Anne Gallagher said...

I always try to "edit" the previous days work before I write the next part. When that's completely finished, then I let it sit for a month. Then I begin the editing process all over again with fresh eyes. And most times I surprise myself because I'll think "I wrote that?!"

And if truth be told, I think I'd rather edit than write.

Amy Saia said...

I hear you. It's not a joyous process. Years ago I thought editing was fun, well, that was before I found out what real edits were like! But it's great that you're sticking to it. Your book will be all that much better!

Jenni Enzor said...

I was a little like you when I first started out with writing. I didn't even know where to start with editing something beyond grammar fixes. Now sometimes it involves rewriting whole scenes or even almost the whole book, way more than I ever imagined.

Christine Rains said...

I thought the same thing years ago, but recently I spent five months just on revisions alone for one novel. For me, that's crazy! But it was worth it. :)

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