Over the last few posts, I've been looking at the writing process. (You can see a complete list of the recent posts below.) So far we've looked at glumping it all on the page and rewriting, which is about dealing with big picture stuff. Today we consider revision.
Because, really, who wants to deal with all the picky little crap like grammar and usage and spelling? Oh, alright, I know there are plenty of you out there who do want to work on it. And I do do too, albeit grudgingly, because I know how much better it makes my work.
A couple of stories:
Story #1: During my last semester of my MFA, my task was to get the first 125 pages or so of the novel I was working on in shape to be presented as my creative thesis, which was required for graduation. I wasn't really certain how exactly I was going to do this. But my then-mentor, Melissa Pritchard, told me how she was at that moment doing final revisions on her own soon-to-be-published novel. She suggested I do the same for my creative thesis.
Her final revisions took the form of considering every single page of her manuscript in such minute detail that it took an hour–at least–to go through one page. She looked at everything, including word choice, sentence structure, paragraph structure, and so on down to the placement of commas and other punctuation.
That, my friends, is revision.
And while you may not do it in quite such painstaking detail, use Melissa's example as guidance for the feel of what you're doing in revision. Its quite a different feeling from rewriting, is it not? And you can see how if you confuse the two, and put revision first, you're going to run into some internal conflict. So please remember that revision is a last draft thing. Do not, I repeat, do not worry about these kinds of details in any other stages of the writing process.
Story #2: A couple years ago, I got hired as an editor for an online erotic romance publisher. I had no experience with erotic romance, and really, none as an editor. But both the publisher and I thought that my mentoring and coaching work would suffice. Wrong. Because even though the publisher employed perfectly good copy editors, part of my job description was line editing. While I am stellar at the big picture, and great with flow, sentence structure and word choice, I'm lousy at grammar. I have an intuitive grasp of it that I follow and beyond that, uh-uh. Not my thing. My career as an erotic editor bit the dust fast. But I learned from that experience. And because of this, I do my best to revise my own work, and also rely on others to help me with the final polish.
And so I end with this: writer, know thyself. Know where you excel in the writing process and where, perhaps, you might need a little help. Coming up next, I've got two posts on getting your writing out into the world–the mechanics of it, and the mindset. Woo-hoo!
Feel free to share ideas for revision in the comments, I love hearing from you.
By the way, if you haven't yet gotten your hands on my new free ebook, Jump Start Your Book With A Vision Board, all you have to do is put your name and email address is the opt-in box on the right. Did I mention that it is free? That's right, FREE. And with it you get a subscription to my ezine, The Abundant Writer.