Let’s Chat for a Bit
(Revisions, Editing, and All That Good Stuff)
Revisions. A word that leaves a nasty taste in your mouth, but oh, so necessary. Why you
say? Because editing allows us to tenderize the meat so it satisfies the palate. When I write a book, my first draft tends to be a thin shell of what is to come. The important parts are there, but it’s no more than bones waiting for their flesh and blood.
I don’t start editing my story as I go along(some writers do, I know)because I find that it corrupts my vision of the story. I concentrate on getting on paper the plot, the characters, the events even though some of these things might change or be tweaked in the second run-through. During this first draft, I post my chapters for critique by my partners. It’s only AFTER I finish writing the work-in-progress that I go back and incorporate the changes.
Now, that’s not to say, I don’t keep an eye out for what others are saying about the story. I note their comments and continue to move along, always working to better what I have. Then, when all this is finished, I take my critiques and apply them. This is where the real meat is basted. I look hard at my characters, even minor ones, and see if I need to bulk one up, change their personality all together, or even delete them. The plot gets looked at here as well. Does it make sense? How can I improve it? Plot is the key to your success. It flavors everything your book is about. Without plot, you have nothing.
Characters can’t drive a story, no matter how unique. The story has to be ABOUT something. Why should we find it interesting? Who cares what’s happening? Give us someone to root for, for sure but he or she has to have a reason to turn the page. This is where you bring your layers onto the table. Tell us the who, what, why, when. Make us feel the tears, smile at the good tidings, laugh with the jokes, scream at the monster. It’s all up to you how you turn the skewers. Close your eyes and go to your characters’ world if necessary. Imagination takes us a long way.
By the time your second run-through is done, you should have the story in place. Now, comes the chipping away, the perfecting of the sauce. Slowly, tighten the sentences, cut what needs to be cut, add where things need to be made clearer. Get some other eyes on it again. Listen to what your critiquers say. Do you change ALL of it according to what they want? Of course not. If it’s something you feel strongly about, as what’s right to happen in the story, keep it. But DO take it under consideration. Think on it a few days. Determine if they’re right. After all, they’re trying to help you, not destroy the product.
When you’re sure you’ve done everything you possibly can to make it better. Send it to betas. Twist things tighter upon their return. This should savor the meat, make the taste of it something to remember. This is the polish stage. The last perusal of the manuscript before you submit. It shouldn’t be hurried over or dragged out. It’s your story’s time to shine. Follow your gut, chop your darlings, it’s how you end up on an agent or editor’s desk instead of the slushpile.