revisionRevision is something all writers (all good writers) do. There are many ways to revise, but here are a few tips:

To revise, it helps to:

  •        Let your writing sit for a brief time.
  •       Avoid feeling bad or good about it.
  •       Get feedback from other writers.
  •       Think like an editor
  •       Listen to your characters
  •       Let your material talk back to you.
  •       Assist other writers with their writing.
  •  Set the search function on your computer to hunt for common errors.  (verb to be in any form.  ‘ly’ [adverbs] etc.) Every time you make a change, you strengthen your writing.

When do you revise?

  • When you reach the end of your novel, then and only then, can you begin to revise, going back to foreshadow events.

The importance of revision:

  • Only a small portion of an iceberg is above water.   Only a small icebergportion of what you write will end up in the published book.  But the rest — the false starts, the revisions, the digressions, are, nonetheless, the foundation of the book.

Quotes about revision:

  •  “The first draft of anything is shit.”  Hemingway
  •  “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”  Dorothy Parker
  •  “I don’t write easily or rapidly.  My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping.  I have to find what those are and build from them and throw out what doesn’t work, or what simply is not alive.”     Susan Sontag


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9 responses to “Revision

  1. Michaelangelo used to search high and low for that perfect slab of marble. He said that the work was within that slab and ‘simply’ needed to be uncovered. I like to think of your first draft as the block of marble that you will make your statute from. Your true story is within that first draft and it needs to be uncovered through artful editing.
    The secret that many writers fail to appreciate is that you have to get your ‘slab’ completed before the true work of writing can begin. I agree that you should not edit a chapter at a time as you write. Your creative process needs to be divided into two distinct phases: Inscription and revision. You spend 15% of your time in inscription. This is when you let the ‘horses run free’ and you don’t look to your internal critique/editor for guidance.The remainder of your time is spent in one form of revision. Editing as you go is like sculpting only the arm of your statute. You run the possibility that there is a huge flaw running up the marble exactly where your torso would be. Think about all the wasted work.
    I agree with Ed. Get the story down. See if your story idea has legs. See if a real story emerges from your inspiration. If that happens, you have your slab to work on. Enjoy the final 85% of your job. This is where the art lies. Find the true story within that first draft.

  2. The hardest part of writing is letting your rough draft be crap. The other hardest part of writing is letting that crap fertilize the awesome story inside it.

  3. I’ll say it again, Ed: You must be one hell of a writing teacher! My daughter reckons Chuck Palahnuik (spelling?) calls the 1st draft: ‘The vomit draft’ – very similar to Hemingway’s saying that the 1st draft is shit.
    It takes courage, I think, to produce a 1st draft. But witihout that 1st, there can be no 2nd – or 3rd – or, in my case 8th or 9th.

  4. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

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