The Joy of Revision

Having finished the first draft of my new story, I’m ready to relax and take it easy. Put my feet up.

Alas, there are no magical story elves waiting in the wings to turn my story into a polished manuscript. (I really wish there were story elves.)

One word after another.

That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it. –Neil Gaiman

Strawberry shortcake with whipcream

Yes, please.

The trouble with sprinting through the first draft is that now I’m back in Revision mode. I’m like a child who rushed through the strawberry shortcake and is now facing a plate full of broccoli. I do not love broccoli.

Yes, I know broccoli is good for me. I can even appreciate that you can take cool pictures of broccoli that illustrate how fractals can be found outside of a mathematics textbook. That’s all well and good. But it doesn’t make me appreciate a plateful of the stuff.

Romanesco broccoli fractals

Ugh.

But if vegetables are inevitable, then it behooves me to find a way to enjoy them.

(Can I get bonus points for using ‘behooves’ in a sentence? Especially this early in the morning?)

Die Hängematte

My inner editor, during my 55k sprint

Turning a rough draft into a smooth draft involves a lot of clean-up. I went through the first draft in a rush. I did not stop and ask “does this work?” The inner editor was off in the Bahamas, lying in a hammock and sipping drinks from a glass with an umbrella stuck in it.

Now I’ve got a plot with several characters who all serve a purpose for the couple of scenes they’re in, but then spend the rest of the story standing around in the background. I’m paying these characters. If nothing else, I’m paying attention to them. So if they’re underutilized, I’m going through the story and combining them, making one character serve two or more functions.

I want to adopt this writer’s positive attitude toward revisions. Broccoli is good for me. So are revisions. If I search long enough, I’ll find something to like about the process.

Like the finished manuscript that awaits at the end.

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