How to approach revisions/rewrites?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Question:

Having finished my book, sent the first draft off for critique by a friend, and settled back into my chair before the computer... Revisions suddenly set up a Great Wall of China between my story and I. Help! At times I feel ruthless, like butchering the whole thing and gluing it back together, and at other times I'm such a ninny, and I don't want to ruin it, even though I know it needs lots of work.
Any suggestions about how to approach revisions/rewrites?


Answer:

Tip-1:

Man. Do I know that feeling? I have stories in which I think I've re-written the opening chapters like 40 times.
Here's a couple of things:

1) Be very wary of making changes that have 'big-picture' consequences unless absolutely necessary. Don’t go changing the continent your hero (or heroine) lives in for example... Unless you plan on rewriting half your chapters!

2) When the 'omg this needs to be made better' bug hits you... and you start re-writing, when you are done with your edit, pause for a moment, and ask yourself, as objectively as possible 'did this really make it better'.

3) Don't be afraid to use the 'Undo' key. Control-Z IS YOUR FRIEND. Remember, unlike the age-old environment of typewriters (shudder), in our electronic age we can take stuff out as easily as we can put it in! Don't be afraid to try to make it better... you can always go back in a few seconds!

4) Finally, don't bite off too much at once. Take it one chapter, one paragraph at a time. Don’t worry about the Elephant... Worry about the hairs on his left front foot's toe-knuckle! Do it 'one bite at a time' and have patience.

Hope that helps!
----------------------
Steve


Tip-2:

Hide it in a deep dark hole for as long as you need, forget about it. Right when you write something you're passionate about it and don't want to hurt it, so give it time to fall away to the old stuff, then hack at it so its beautiful If you're still attached to a piece, you'll get no where. And after you've done that, read over it. And if you still aren't happy, hide it again, and hack at it again. Just keep at it I hope that helped, and wasn't too vague...


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