Tuesday, April 7, 2009

All a matter of perspective

The last time I revised this manuscript, the revision process began with one of my cats peeing all over it. Awesome.

As yet, no one has peed on this version of the novel. (And if you are one of the people I sent the manuscript to, and you have, please don't tell me. Also, you can keep that copy.)

The last revision was a rewrite. When I was finished with the first draft (one that I knew, upon finishing, was not good enough to send to anyone else) I had the bones of a real story. But I didn't properly understand my characters, I hadn't put in enough of the underlying mythology, and there were some bits that were just flat wrong. I had good bones, but I had hung the wrong flesh on them.

I feel much better about things this time. I've started to hear back from my readers, and the things that need fixing, well, as I read over the manuscript and begin to take notes, I can see how to fix them. Much of that can be summed up with "more exposition here." As a reader, I hate when the author hand-holds me through a story, and so as a writer, I tend to go vigorously in the other direction. Which means sometimes the necessary bits get left in my head. However, the necessary bits are in my head, so it's just a matter of realizing when and how they should get on the page. 

Which makes it sound easy. It's not. It's really hard for me to look critically at my own work, and to cut the well-turned sentence (kill your darlings, my dears). And some scenes aren't any better the fifth time I write them. They're just wrong in an excitingly new way. But I can feel the story getting better. And that's what matters.


  1. Self-editing and revising is one of the hardest things for me. I think my main issues are lack of patience and dealing with frustration (discrepancy between what's there and what should be there).

    Do you have any tricks that help you get into a productive "revision mode"? For instance, do you revise in a different room than your writing room, or do you drink a different kind of tea or coffee or...? I'm curious! :-)

  2. I revise in my office, just like where I write. And I'm drinking the same inappropriate amounts of caffeine. Because it's first person, and so getting the stuff out of my head means getting into Aislinn's head, and her voice, I went on a hard run and then fenced some, so that I could have that feeling of physicality and tiredness that she carries.

    But the most helpful thing for me to do in terms of getting through the revision and not getting discouraged by it, is just to constantly remind myself that revision is my chance to make things better.