Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why Revisions Are So Difficult

So, you sent your story out to your editor or your agent. You love this story. You worked your "you know what" off and it contains all of your blood, sweat and tears. And then, you get that letter back saying something such as. "I really love the things you have done with this story but there are a few things that I think we need to work on." This is then followed up by pages of comments.


But the thing is that revisions are part of the entire writing process. It is the revision phase that really fleshes out that great story that you, your agent and your editor envisioned when you were discussing it at the proposal phase, But still, I get it. Revisions are tough. But why?

The biggest reason is that you, your agent, and your editor were looking at this story while wearing blinders. You know what I mean? Those things the race horse wear. Of course we are talking about this in the metaphorical sense. Each of the players in this story saw it being written one way. They saw the characters one way. They heard the discussions one way. And they saw the resolution of the conflict being played out in their unique way. When you have three sets of eyes looking at it this way, you will often run into things that seem to be impossible to resolve.

But this is not the case. The odds are, you are all looking at the exact same issues in the story. The struggle you are having is how to resolve those issues.

I know with many authors, they see the only way to resolve the story is a complete re-do of the entire story. They panic and see this changes as being something that will mandate time they simply feel they do not have in their life. The editors or the agents may also see it that way. But there is a solution.

As you look at the revisions, simply make a list of the problems and look at these in blocks of issues. What you will often find is that the issues back in Chapter 10 may all be fixed with a small tweak in Chapter 2. In other words, you made a mistake early on and for the next 8 chapters, you just dug your self into the problem deeper and deeper.

Secondly, look for the easy solutions. If you have great dialogue, but you ended up inserting another random character in the story to say those things, and the end result was a chapter that was just slowing the story down. You had to put that person into the story, work them in smoothly, get those lines out, and then work them out of the story. This is too much. Could another character figure this out? Could your protagonist just come to this understanding without bringing in someone else to tell them?

I always tell my authors to not panic when those revisions show up. Let's look at the comments and see what we can do.

Now, with that said, will there be times when the revisions are a pain. Yes. But now you know how to work through the problems.

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