Thoughts on the Revision Process as I Wrap My Seventh Draft
The manuscript is due - the terrifying FINAL version- on 11/1. I have one more round of edits after this. Hold me.
- •I have discovered, this draft, that the book is much better than I remembered!
- •I felt very uncertain, almost resigned, after the sixth draft.My initial passionate love of this book had died about draft or two ago. Now it's about putting in the work. I just finished Open, and in it, Agassi often says that tennis is about just putting in the work. So too with writing. A lot of people misunderstand this. Put in the work.
- •I need to remind myself that this love-hate relationship will probably continue for the rest of this book's life. (And mine too.)
- •I revel, literally take pleasure, in cutting passages.
- •Editing is about revising, yes, but also so much is about judicious axing.When you are writing an early draft, you're working toward getting to an acceptable word count. Now I am paring it back to get BACK to that word count.
- •I am a big fan, evidently, of internal exposition.This is my writing crutch. This is also the biggest thing I am cutting.
- •I am also a big fan of adverbs.All getting cut, she said excitedly.
- •Dialogue, at least when I write it, needs about three drafts before it really sounds perfectly natural. Oh how I love perfectly natural dialogue.
- •The people who email me to complain about swear words are going to have a lot to complain about.
- •Editing, like reading, is subjective and too many cooks in the kitchen can be confusing.My editor is suggesting that I add in some ideas that earlier readers had suggested I remove. Proof that a change isn't always better - they just please different readers - and ultimately, you have to gut check what is most true to the story.
- •And on that note, trust your instincts.I don't regret removing those aspects of the story, only to be folding them back in...because I truly do know that they are right for the plot now...but I do think my initial instincts were right in several cases, and it's okay to stick to your guns.
- •But be flexible!My editor has made a few suggestions that I'd never have thought of and absolutely have made the book better. I think of editing as a collaboration, and I welcome input.
- •I could probably revise this ms ten more times and still not be satisfied.This is why I, and I think a lot of other writers, don't reread our backlists. Nothing can be changed even when you'd like to.
- •But I would rather jump off a bridge than revise this ten more times.Please don't make me.
- •There is something really magnificent about finally working on the draft when you know you are making the book better, not worse.
- •I think I'm really gonna love this when it's done, even if that feels impossible. ❤️