This month’s topic in #Inkripples has to do with Revisions. I’ve suggested some tips to writers. See what the other writers in Inkripples toss into the pond. Take a look at the ripples… Add your own… Mary Waibel’s World at Katie Carroll Observation Desk and at Kai Strand’s blog.
Don’t you hate people who say they never revise their work? That it’s perfect the first time around? Whether a writer, sculptor, or painter revisions are a part of our lives. We are constantly revising who we are and our work. No one is perfect the first time around. And when I hear people say they never have to revise, I simply don’t believe them. PS even Michelangelo revised his work!
- Be ready to make changes. If you send your completed manuscript out to your agent or editor and they say, “This is a great book, but it needs to be told in the first person, not the third person,” don’t panic. Don’t rebel. Let the suggestion sink it. Try it out with other opinions. And, if it makes sense to you, bite the bullet and do it.
- You don’t have to do everything people say. Indeed revisions are a part of our writing world, but if you try and make everyone happy, you’ll end up making no one happy. Be discerning on what you decide to revise and why.
- Be willing to make big changes. Sometimes the first edition of a book doesn’t work and you don’t know why. Here’s an example: When I wrote The Clock Strikes Midnight, the first version was totally different than the final book. I had an editor tell me that the story was either a YA book or it must be told from another point of view. My point of view character was 15 years old–the definition of a YA book. My choices were to change the story to fit a YA audience or reframe the book from an older point of view. Either way would have been a major revision. I agonized over the decision. After a few weeks, I decided to give the second option a try. I completely reframed the book. Guess what? It worked and it not only got published but has also since won several awards.
- When you finish a book, let it go. After you’ve revised and refined and tweaked, put it away. I had an artist tell me that if she worked too long on a painting, she’d ruin it. We have to know when to stop!
- I’ve heard people suggest start in the middle. Now, I’ve never done this, but I can see where it might work for some manuscripts. When you are struggling with the beginning–perhaps you have too much backstory or you can’t quite pull off the hook, maybe put all that aside and start in the middle.
There’s nothing wrong with making revisions. What we have to recognize is our work is fluid. Changes are possible and some changes might even make us better writers. The pain of hearing you still have lots of work to do when you’ve decided your work is finished hurts. It hurts a lot. But my suggestion is get over it and start working! You’ll be glad you did.
Happy writing and happy revising!
Katie L. Carroll says
Great tips on revising, Joan! Taking note for when I tackle my next revision.
Joan Curtis says
It’s always painful to hear there’s more work ahead, but once that pain subsides and I get down to it, it’s not too bad. At least, I’ve found it isn’t!
Kai Strand says
Start in the middle is an interesting one to me. I’ve always been a linear writer, but wouldn’t you know it, the YA fantasy I’m working on right now…nope. I knew what the ending needed to be (not the first time) but when the specific scene started keeping me up at night, I jumped to the end and wrote it. Then a couple weeks later the scene immediately preceding the ending did the same thing, so again I jumped forward and wrote that. I can’t say if this is going to work, because I still have to connect the dots, but isn’t it interesting how each book comes together differently?
Joan Curtis says
That’s quite a roundabout process. I’m impressed. What it suggests is that writers need to go with the flow and not force it. If a scene comes to them and it’s not in order, then write it. I’m sure your book will come together and probably with lots of surprises. Thanks for sharing!