Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I Love Revisions

There are a lot of portions about writing a book that can be scary, overwhelming, and, well--just really, really hard. For me, revisions are not one of those portions, because I love them.

You read that right: I love revisions.

Which might sound a little crazy to some people, but I'm betting there are other writers out there that love them just as much as I do. For me, when I first begin writing, I become so close to the story--to my characters--that I can't really see the big picture. This is when I completely rely on my critique partners to help me narrow in on what is making the story work and what might need some more fine tuning--or heck, even a major overhaul.

And then, I take their opinions with what I know about my characters and my story, and I figure out what works. Even so, I'm still too close to the book at that point to really see it clearly. I go through moments of despair (Oh my God, this book is HORRIBLE, what I have done???), all the way to awe (Wow! I wrote that! I love this!). Normally, though, at this stage I'm in the "I have no idea what I'm writing, what's happening, and how it's all fitting together" mindset.

So I trust my instincts and keep moving forward.

But then the glorious day comes I finish the book. Yay! It's done! I can breathe/eat/sleep/talk again. And then some time passes, and it's time to do revisions.

By this point, enough time has (hopefully) elapsed for me to read my book somewhat clean, so I can see the entire story, i.e. the big picture, I couldn't see when I was writing it. That, along with my editor's suggestions, means I can then do all the things I need to do to make the story really shine. I tend to catch problems I didn't see before, threads that might need strengthening, or a character that at some point I lost sight of.

At any rate, revisions allow me to put the exact right amount of polish to my story, to my characters, at a time when I've gained enough distance to do those changes justice.

And that's why I love revisions!


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I do NOT love revisions. But I do love having revised. :)

Heather Zundel said...

Oh my goodness! Someone else loves to revise? I'm not alone! I am ruthless to my babies and I love it. If I think, even for a second, that my story will be better from it, I will cut things, rewrite, kill characters like you wouldn't believe. I am without mercy. (I wonder if my characters ever cower in fear when I bring out that red pen. . .) Bwa ha ha ha!

Jillian Cantor said...

I have sort of a love/hate relationship with revisions myself. But it is an amazing feeling to be able to take a step back and suddenly find some clarity as to what the book needs to really work. That's the part I love!

Maureen Lipinski said...

I think revisions = awesome.

I think this makes me weird, yes?

Tracy Madison said...

Natalie: LOL, I get that, but somehow the act of revisions make me feel sooo good, even while I'm in the middle of them.

Heather: I'm so with you! Isn't it cool when something different flickers into your brain and you KNOW that's what you need to do? It doesn't even matter if your cutting something else to make it work.

Tracy Madison said...

Jillian: I completely agree with you, and while at times I feel the "Will I ever finish this?" during revisions, well...the work is sooo worth it.

Maureen: You can join me in the weirdness!