Revisions, Revisions   4 comments

Ah, the bane of every writer’s life; the dreaded revision. Or is it?

Truth is, whether or not a revision is a pain in the ass happens to be a matter of perspective. But, then again, so are most things we all tend to gripe about. Still let’s take a look at this necessary evil, and see what most of us are really having conniption fits about.

Most authors consider their manuscripts their ‘babies.’ OK, let’s accept that premise, and take a look at our stories from that perspective.

What would we want for our real child if we could give them anything? Would we give our sons and daughters every advantage they could have to succeed in life on their own? Sure we would. We would give them the ability to make friends easily. Captivate others with their charisma, and be popular. We’d remove every defect life hands them. Give them perfect eyesight, healthy athletic bodies, and strong personalities.

Would we piss and moan about it, if we could do that for our children? Would we complain if we had do it again, because what we thought was an advantage wasn’t? Probably not. Would we do it until we got it right for them? Damn straight we would.

That’s a revision, gang. We would do all that for our real babies without as much as a hiccup. But gripe endlessly about having to do the same thing for our ‘babies.’

The reason why is easy to understand. Our egos. We don’t really care about our ‘babies,’ we want our words to be holy writ. We want our genius set in stone, irrevocable, so it is written, so shall it be. In short we care more about ourselves than we do our stories. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be bitching about having to work to make them better.

Personally, being from the ‘story is everything’ school of thought, I don’t mind revisions. I want my stories to be the best I can turn out.

Over time, I’ve created scenes that I thought were the next best thing to Ernest Hemmingway, only to discover they fit the story about as well as your left shoe fits your right foot. They detracted from the story instead of making it stronger. I tossed them aside faster than the days trash and set to work coming up with a scene that did work. Sure it took a while, and I racked my brain for days trying to figure out what actually happened there. But, the end result was a stronger story.

Now what I mean by ‘what happened there’ is I also believe in having the story grow out of the situations that arise, instead of forcing the story to fit the situation I came up with. Which is exactly the mistake I made. I had this great idea, but it didn’t quite fit the way the story was going, so I shoehorned it in anyway. Bad idea and the result was a scene that was as awkward as a fart in a spacesuit… stunk about as bad, too.

Now, I’ll probably do the same thing again. In fact I’m sure I will. But, because I want my ‘baby’ to have every advantage I can give it, I’ll be more than happy to sit down and make any change it needs to make it in this old world.

It’s our duty, our responsibility, and more than that, should be our pleasure.

That’s actually the key to getting out of Revision Hell. Make it a pleasure instead of a chore. You’ll probably find the whole mess goes a lot faster, and is a lot less stressful.

Later, Gang 😉

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Posted November 30, 2012 by Peter Burton in Uncategorized

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4 responses to “Revisions, Revisions

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  1. Yup. My major bitch is that I have a hard time truly discerning, in my own work, what should go, what should merely be revised and what is best left alone. All a learning curve I suppose. But trying out a new way to revise and going to see how it works out for me.

    • And I truely hope it works out for you, TJ.

      We all have that problem, which is why we have Marathon on AQC. A lot of the time all we need is fresh eyes on our stories to find out what is working, and what isn’t.

      Not to mention, you can also ask anyone… including me… in the SF Group for an opinion. You’re part of the family, Girl. 😉

  2. Great advice.

    I question most everything. I think something works, only to find it didn’t. If you want to see your words in print, you will have to work very hard at the craft and make the best story possible.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Thanks for the comment, Dean.

      And, Brother, I know what you mean there. I had to cut out six chapters from Wolfsong for the same reason. A bad idea that I thought would work, only to discover it was the worst contrived piece of garbage I’ve done… so far. LOL!

      But ya know what, Bro? I’m glad I found it. 😉

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