Monday, March 14

Do You Revise Until Your Eyes Cross?

Writing a book is hard enough. Revising it ....well, it sure doesn't get any easier. Why? Because we as authors tend to believe every last word we write is golden. If we didn't believe it, we wouldn't be able to churn out a single page.

A certain amount of self-confidence is both good and necessary. However, it must be suspended once we hit the revision stage. Which is what makes the process so painful. When I write, my first draft comes out about the level of some other third drafts (in an average process of maybe five drafts, for comparison sake). Relatively polished and error free. Why? Because sloppy writing drives me crazy. So instead of fingers whizzing across the keyboard, I tend to pause and ponder over just the right turn of phrase many, many times per session. Therefore my average word count may be on the lower side, but it makes me happy that, for the most part, those words are all 'keepers'. Do you find it easier to write a clean first draft, or do you prefer to zip out the words super fast and go back later to clean it up?

Does that mean it is ready to submit? Heck, no! It means I tend to be lazier and more stuck in concrete when it somes to editing. Very, very dangerous. Oddly enough, for all the time I spend, most of my revisions aren't cuts - they are additions. Dialogue is where I tend to gallop ahead. I get my banter on, and suddenly a page has gone by without any inner monologue, or physical motion, or setting description. My page is nothing more than two talking heads. That's no fun to read! So I'll go back the next day and realize my scene has no texture. Immediately (instead of waiting till I finish the whole thing), I stop all forward motion and edit, or insert all the stuff I forgot to put in the first time around. Is it frustrating not to plow ahead with the plot? Sure. But in the long run, fixing those tiny details the first time through makes my overall revisions slightly less painful.


  1. Me too! I'm an edit as I go girl. When Bix is finally done, it should be pretty close to submittable. It may have taken me longer to write the first full draft, but it will be done except for minoring tinkering. I've tried to shut down the inner editor, but I can't move on until I fix what's broken.

  2. Great post! I do a little of both. If I get stuck, I go back and edit what I have. That tends to get me going again, and I try to take care of typos as I go. As far as adding emotions and incorporating usable crit suggestions, I wait until I type "the end"

  3. I figure if 1 way works, 2 ways will work better. So I write as muc of the first draft as I can before going back. Sometimes i'm more than halfway done when i realize something is wrong with the beginning, sometimes I can't get past chapter 3 until Issue A is fixed. But I can usually get nearly through a wip - a very short, very issue-filled 1st draft before going back.

  4. I hate revising.

    I usually write fast and sloppy. Send it to the CPs in stages. You guys get the first one, then fixed, it goes to the next round, and finally, I polish.

    And polish some more.

  5. I like revising (especially when you're doing what an editor tells you what to do) but I also like a clean first draft. When I first HAD CPs, I was shocked at how much they found wrong. And grateful, I might add.

    Great post, Christi!

  6. I don't mind revising, in fact, I like it, but after the fivth-sixth time, it really begins to get on my nerves.
    I'm an edit-as-you-go sort of writer, but not always. If the scene is flowing, then I keep going and go back later to add or subtract, or fix.