Thursday, March 3, 2016

Revisions Often Make Problems Bigger

Revisions are a necessary evil. We have just finished pouring our heart and soul into a manuscript and now it is time to "fix it." I do think, it is a perceived belief that when we revise, we immediately start making it better, and, in a way, we are doing this. BUT, and this is a big one, there are times when the revision process opens up a lot of other problems that we didn't see in the first round.

I am in the middle of editing and revising a client's latest project. This is the second round and of revisions and I know she has put in a lot of work on this project. But, as I wrapped up the first read through of the story, it has come to the surface there is still a while to go before we can send this project out. Now, personally, I do not think this will be major, but the story line is going to have to shift a lot. That, in itself, may be difficult.

Why didn't we see this in the first place? Well, that is the issue with revisions. I often describe the revision process of working in layers. We scrub at that project to remove the first layer of issues. After that, we start to see more issues that were not visible because of the first layer. Think of it this
way. Have you watched those episodes of Property Brothers. The house renovations are going along great until they tear down a wall. It is then when they see the asbestos, or water damage. Well, there went the budget!

The same thing happens with a story. In the case of my author, the issues that we saw the first time were plot elements and organization. The story was in a real rough draft state. Now that we got that taken care of, other issues dealing with characterization and theme started to come to the surface.

I am always talking about the issue of time in writing and publishing. This is a craft that cannot be rushed and writers have to realize that. It is unfortunate that we are living in a world of get it done now! We have a publishing climate that pushes how fast a publisher can get that book to the readers. The impact of this is that we are not taking that time in the revision process.

Give the story a chance to be revised. Find those smaller problems and clean up those issues. In the end, even if you have to spend that additional time, you will be happier with the final product.

1 comment:

  1. "This is a craft that cannot be rushed and writers have to realize that. It is unfortunate that we are living in a world of get it done now!" Such refreshing advice. I'm facing a revision right now, have been thinking it through, and re-thinking, and feeling guilty about time lost while dragging my heels, but I know if I rush into the revision too soon it'll probably mean more work down the road.