WRITING WEDNESDAY (Revising is writing)


So I am knee-deep in revising the first draft of book two. It’s going well. I am about 1/3 of the way in and restructuring sentences so they are active and not passive, making dialog more realistic and believable, and fleshing out scenes by adding to them or dropping back story in entertaining anecdotes given by Deacon Chalk, the MC and narrator.

So I hit a part where I have to write a completely new chapter to insert. I had this scene as a sum up at the beginning of the next chapter and, at the suggestion of one of the members of my writing group, I am pulling it and making it a full scene all on its own.

I think I started it too early. I have them walking down a corridor to a car, when I need to cut back to them being at the car.

And this is where revising gets brutal. I LIKE what I wrote for this chapter. It’s good stuff. I am describing characters injuries and giving insights to them and it is cool.

But it is not the right place to start this chapter and therein lies the rub.

So now I get to yank it and rewrite it.  But you have to be willing to do this very thing. It makes your story stronger. You have to teeter on the edge of loving your words and being willing to bash them to pieces with a sledgehammer.  When you revise you should be cutting words and sentences and even whole chapters/characters/subplots. You should also be adding, but cutting should happen over and over again. Without mercy.

I know when I am not in the headspace for revision because I read my first draft and don’t change anything for a whole paragraph.  I know myself and while I write a pretty decent first draft, if I go to revise and I am not changing at least one out of every four sentences then I am not in the right headspace.   It’s not because I wrote that brilliantly the first time. Nope. Hell, there are some passages I write that in revision EVERY sentence gets reworded or cut completely.  It has to be done.

Why? BECAUSE EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING MUST PAY FOR ITS TIME ON THE PAGE. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter, every character, every plot, every everything. If it does not further the plot or develop the character then it has to be cut. If you do not cut it you are leaving word cancer that will metastasis and kill your manuscript.

Be brutal and revise like you mean it.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m currently revising my first novel. I call it The Incredible Shrinking Manuscript, and I keep worrying that it’s too short for a publisher to want.

    • You have to do what the story requires. But the publisher guidelines are pretty flexible and it is actually better to come in a bit short than too long. Just try to hit that magic medium and you are okay. 🙂

      And with the new craze of e-publishing it seems to me that shorter manuscripts are becoming more and more popular, so don’t worry! Just keep working.

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