Last week I mentioned that my fiction intensive class (with author Lydia Netzer) would be critiquing the first 25% of my manuscript. Everyone said they loved it. Many offered specifics on what they loved and why, as well as what drew them in.
On the other hand, every student found issues that will require significant revisions, even tweaks in my timeline. I know they’ll strengthen the novel and tighten the storyline, so I have to agree with almost everything they suggested.
Just kidding. (Mostly.)
“Revisions” is often treated like a four-letter word. Other writers often comment that they hate editing. Meh…maybe you’d rather be writing something fresh and new. But don’t you love the tighter, more focused thrill of reading a newly revised story? Isn’t it a real sense of accomplishment to have evolved something that was already good into something that’s great?
Face it: revisions are part of the game. Few of us write a perfect draft the first time (or second or third or…), so we get used to reading and re-reading every draft. We talk about our characters like they live next door, or about plot twists as if we read them in the headlines. Our friends, family, and writers’ circle are used to this. From time to time, random people at the gym or on the bus might hear about them too.
It’s true that major revisions—especially on a timeline (like busting butt to get a manuscript ready for Pitch Wars in late August)—can be intimidating. Overwhelming. You know this feeling. It’s that same old demon, Self-Doubt. Can you do it? What if you screw it up? Is anyone ever going to read this?
I’m here to tell you:
1. Yes, you can.
2. You won’t screw it up. Even if you do, you can revise it again. (And you always back up your work, so that you can go back to previous versions and cherry-pick the pieces you want to keep from an older draft. Right?)
3. Rest assured, you will find your audience.
Sounding boards are great for revising plot twists and placement of new scenes. If you don’t already have one, find someone you trust. Someone who will tell you the bald truth. Someone will listen over and over to your story ideas. Someone who will freely offer suggestions on improvements or note obvious flaws in your plan.
As for me, I suppose I can’t put it off any longer. It’s time to get to work.
Here I go – head-first into revision number 9,342. What number are you on?