The Art of Revising

9 Feb

And there it is: a plot hole, a character that doesn’t feel quite real, a motivation that is lacking. There’s always something you find could use improving if you take out a magnifying glass and look through it with a reader’s brain instead of a writer’s heart.

And therein lies the rub. Once a story has been written, whether it’s a first draft or not, it’s hard for the writer to erase those words from paper. I like to see it as the power of the written word. They plant their roots in paper and it’s hard for the writer to pull them out, since he was the one who planted them in the first place.

This is why reliable ninja readers are so important, they weren’t there when you planted those words and they only care about how they look when bloomed. And this is also why you should let your story simmer before rereading it. Then you’ll be able to read it more as a reader, as opposed to a writer. Also, your subconscious knows so much, so be sure to take notes about which doubts are shouting at the back of your head. Chances are, if you have a strict ninja reader, that he’ll point out the things you suspected and this will make your inner (re)writer’s hands itch. No writer wants to pee in his own shoe. We want our story to be the best that it can be and we are the only ones that can make that happen.

Now comes the tricky part, which is to actually incorporate those changes necessary to benefit your story. The story is an intrinsically woven web of multi-coloured threads. Pull on one of them and the entire thing could collapse. And since I wing it more than I plan it, I find it difficult to uncover a way that works for me and doesn’t involve a lot of grunting, sighing, muttering and complaining on Twitter. What once really helped me was writing down the situation at the beginning and at the end of the novel and work my way to the middle, writing down the scenes that needed to come after the beginning and before the end. It’s a great way to plan your novel and keep sight of the thread that binds all the scenes together. You’re forced to ask yourself: What needs to happen in order to get to that next point?

So, keeping in mind the changes I need to make, I think I’ll use this method to determine where and how new scenes need to take place. (Easier said than done!) And I’ll probably still complain on Twitter.

This leads me to my question for all of you fellow writers, how do YOU rewrite?


writing journal


3 Responses to “The Art of Revising”

  1. Clare Davidson February 9, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    Great blog post. I agree, revising is so very hard. I’m my own harshest critic, so sometimes I’ll go overboard on revising, which can have an adverse effect. My actual process is to let it sit for a while and then load it up onto my Kindle and just read it. I can’t edit or tweak any sentences, but I do take notes on plot, character, motivation etc. I then use those notes to do the next draft.

    Good luck with your revisions 🙂

    • pfeatherstonehaugh February 9, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      Sounds good! And I’m glad I’m not the only writer who finds this difficult.
      Thanks for commenting, good luck to you too!

      *hands out cookies*

  2. bejamin4 February 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    I write quickly whatever comes out for the first draft. Then, I go back and add things that need to be added such as descriptions, setting, or whatever I feel is lacking. Then, I go back and add any other scenes or more to what may still be lacking. I have to keep my revision feeling like it is writing or I just get bored. Good luck writing and revising.

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