Revision—is it a blessing or a curse? Do you dread changing anything? Do you resist murdering your darlings—those words that seem to be a piece of exceptionally fine writing? Are you clinging to them like a sailor to a life raft? Elmore Leonard put it pretty succinctly when he said he just left out the boring parts. (Cutting speeds the pace.)
Kristen Fulton, non-fiction writer and founder of WOW, said that before her critique group sees it, she’s probably done 30-40 revisions of a manuscript! Before her agent sees it, she’s probably done close to 100. Wow!!!!
Creating ideas, crafting clever titles, concocting characters, now that's fun. "Revision" seems so serious. So let's revise our thoughts on "revision" as we march into 2015. We’ll share wise words from some favorite writers and some links for those on the revision quest!
Our writer friend, Dianna Ashton gave us a delicious new metaphor for revision. Think of it as baking. She confessed to the GROG that for her newest book, there were so, so, so many revisions. You gotta bake batches of cupcakes before the batter is delectable!
Dianna's Advice for revision? Do it. Do it again. Then do it again. In between revisions, put the manuscript away for a few days. Let it “bake.” Then come back to it with fresh eyes. Revise. Bake again. You may think it’s perfect before revising, but it’s not. You’ll be able to see how to improve it after you’ve let it bake a few times.
Another writer friend, Miranda Paul shared her process with us, too. Miranda said, “I write first drafts mostly on notebook paper,
then eventually get around to typing it up. Occasionally, an entire manuscript writes itself in my head first—in those cases, I go straight to the computer and type like a madwoman, thankful for the gift from my muse.
Once a story is typed, I have this quirky method where I use the default font while it's still what I consider a working draft. When it's a solid manuscript ready for a closer eye, I change the font to Times New Roman for "revision" or "editorial" mode. After a round of on-screen edits, I always print out the manuscript, take it to a new location, and slash word count (for picture books) or scan meter (if rhyming). Then I put the changes into the computer and walk away. More of Miranda’s process can be found at her top 10 tips Miranda has several books in the pipeline including the inspirational nonfiction picture book ONE PLASTIC BAG out in Feb. 2015!
Revise with new eyes and motivation by joining these groups and checking out these links:
1. Meg Miller’s ReviMo Jan. 11-17, 2015
2. Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas emailseries
Here’s to fun with revision and creating that picture perfect manuscript in 2015! Cheers to writing, friends! We'd love it if you shared your favorite revision tips in the comments, too.