Tag: editing

On Revision

Continuing my thoughts on Stephen King‘s book On Writing (which began here), I would like to talk this week about revision. King says “I think it’s rare that incoherence or dull storytelling can be solved by something so minor as a second draft.” As with the previous posts, I have a different take.

I think revision can cure almost any ailment in a piece of writing (so long as there’s something worth saving about it, of course). Let me tackle the “dull storytelling” aspect with a specific example from my own writing (which will probably carry very little weight, seeing how little I have published, and with no way for readers to see the result of my current example at present).

I wrote a character who was completely lifeless aside from his sob story. This character was the only person in the story other than the main character for a good four chapters or so. My husband, on reading this part, said he hated this section of the book and wanted the character to die.

I love painful honesty.

I see painfully-honest criticism as the grit that eventually polishes a rough story. Rather than becoming dismal about it, and declaring the book a failure, I cheerfully wrote “Give Thibault a passion!” on a paper I wouldn’t lose and mulled it over in the back of my mind for that evening and the next morning. Then it came to me–a solution which would change everything, reverberating out through the whole story; it would increase the character’s presence in the first part, give him some way to contribute in the second part (and not just be a food-sink who endangers the main character), and would flesh him out into more than just a Person Who’d Been Hurt.

I believe revision can make all the difference–a flat character can gain a whole new dimension and change the whole story, all in “something so minor as a second draft.”

I Feel Rusty

I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that my fresh writing is a lot more raw than it used to be, say a year ago. I used to spend a lot more time learning the craft. I also used to spend a lot more time trying terribly hard to get into and then put up with critique groups. But I haven’t been doing that much lately, and so I think my craft has suffered.

Today I unearthed my copy of “From First Draft to Finished Novel.” I’m going to reread it, and all the other editing books I’ve collected through the years. I’m going to re-watch Write About Dragons. I’m going to re-read Rachel Aaron’s blog posts on writing more efficiently. And I’m going to post this for the world to see to make sure I feel pressured to actually follow through on these decisions.

Also, I’m going to not spend so much time on Twitter as I have the past few weeks. Because seriously, it’s been a bit much.