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When Revision Rears its Ugly Head, Give it a Makeover
I don’t think I’ve found a subject that writers collectively loathe more than revision. For some reason, just the thought of chewing through pages upon pages of manuscript is enough to elicit a mass pandemic of sighs and eye-rolling. Yet revision doesn’t have to be a monster in the closet. It can be (and should be) the writer’s best friend.
I too suffered from the revision depression until just recently. I had finished a rough draft of my novel and knew that the next step would be to go through and polish that piece of $%!# until it shined brighter than the sun. The manuscript sat untouched for over two months before I finally opened it back up. I didn’t want to do it and did everything in my power to put it off until it could wait no longer. When I chewed my way through the first few pages something magical happened; I found that I enjoyed it. Revising the story and fixing the errors of my first run was almost cathartic.
What was it that made revision fun? Perception.
Since I finished the rough draft, I now had a firm grasp of the storyline, where it was going, and how it would end. I knew the characters inside and out, and how they interacted with one another. For those of you who write with detailed outlines, this may not be an issue. But for me, since I write by the seat of my pants, these details don’t come alive until the story is well on its way. I wrote a lot of my initial chapters in a very bare-bones style just to get the plot moving, or to finish the novel. But now I had the power to turn it into something wonderful.
I flew through the first few chapters in record time. Some details stayed, but others got a pink slip and disappeared, replaced by scenes or sentences that set up events to come. Characters were better developed, and character interaction became a fine-tuned machine that purred.
Whenever I told my writer friends that I was having a good time with my revisions, they gave me looks as if I were trying to describe the Pythagorean Theorem. Revision doesn’t have to suck. It doesn’t have to be tedious or menial. Just like anything else, it’s what you make it. Enjoy the process and have fun with your revisions. Find the excitement in the word-craft and it will make the job of revision an adventure.
About C. R.
C.R. Langille has been searching the darkness for the ultimate scare for over a decade. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he began crafting nightmares for others to enjoy.
He and his wife live in Utah. They share their home with a Doberman, a Corgi and an ill-tempered cat. His stories have been featured in Dark Moon Books and FearKnocks. He’s an avid hunter, martial-artist, table-top gamer, and amateur survivalist.