Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Gift of Revision

Since this is a blog about the writing process, I wanted to share with everyone a great gift that I can only assume God himself has given me. The absolute Joy of revision.

Lots of people complain about how they hate to edit. They hate nitpicking, and they hate reading what they've written because they're ashamed or discouraged. I do not have this problem. For me, revision is like a key being wound in the back of a toy; you've got to twist and twist to get it nice and tight, then you let go and all the parts and pieces start moving together as a unit. There's a lot of satisfaction in seeing it work properly, and that's why I love revising.

Right now I'm powering through my second draft of Act2. It's not terrible, but there are definitely places where I can simplify and remove. I write a lot in redundancies, and I explain too much. Explanation is important of course, but generally it's good to assume your reader isn't stupid and doesn't need a review every couple chapters. Today while I was revising I cut out nearly half a page of useless and repetitive dialog and boy do I feel better! Revising is like a drug and once I start I can't get enough of it. I've had to put my manuscript down for nearly a week to get other work done and it's been torture. I can't wait to get back into it, and I'd be doing it right now if I didn't have to walk three needy dogs.

I guess my lesson to the masses is not to be scared of revising. Remembering the soul of your story is what's important and making the prose or sequence of events different to better portray it is key. Read through your stuff and don't be ashamed, see every page as an opportunity to do it again better. Pat yourself on the back for things that are well written, and don't tear yourself up over things that are not. We're only mortals, we are not perfect, and a story is as much a series of errors as anything else we make.


  1. Hah I totally agree, as a matter of fact, I nitpick and edit to an extent that it probably is enough to drive most people crazy.

    "Generally it's good to assume your reader isn't stupid" - this is so important and far too many people overlook this. As I continue to study animation, I realize how much it happens in this industry. Even when your audience is a child, they are not as dumb as you may think. So much entertainment hits us over the head with unnecessary recaps, narration, and explanations. Reading a script from an animated series from the 90s like Batman: TAS or similar, then reading a script from a series of today - there is a noticeable negative change.

    It's great that you aren't afraid to continue to reinvent ideas and play with new concepts.

  2. I find so much therapy in making a thing I love better. It's like validating myself... knowing if I can massage this thing I care about into a better shape maybe adjusting myself and my own flaws isn't so hard. I really really love revising.

  3. Well said! I like the way you think about revision--not as proof of one's failure to be perfect (which is a given, for human beings), but as an opportunity to do better and bring the story closer to what it wants to be. Awesome post! ♥

  4. That's always been my motto- ever since losing/deleting progress on things in school: It's not "You've lost it!" it's "Now's your chance to do it again better"... and often it is better when you redo it!