Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I am revising. It is hard. And slow.

It's not even a big revision: just adding some character motivation, fleshing out a few scenes (not "flushing out," as people here at the office mistakenly say, causing me to suppress giggles), and so on. But armed with my knife and scalpel, tenterhooks and shovel, I am wading in to do battle.

But wait! Hasn't this been revised before? Why, yes. Yes it has. So why revise now?

Because it's NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Now. I'm not going to be that cliched character kneeling by the unmoving body of a friend shouting "I can fix him I can fix him I can fix him" while performing weepy chest compressions with my little clenched fist.

But, when I look at my manuscript, I think "I can fix it I can fix it I can fix it," and I start scrawling edits with a pen in my little clenched fist.

Here is my method. I just came up with this ten seconds ago. First I write the book forwards, beginning to end. Then I put it away. Then I come back to it. Then I change the beginning so the ending makes sense.

Then I tinker with the ending so it follows the beginning. Then I rework the beginning so the ending is more poignant and meaningful.

And then I get to work on the middle! Yee. Haw.

I'm averaging about ten pages of revisions per day. In a month maybe it'll be ready. For a re-read!


Babs said...

So it's not "tenderhooks" like I've always thought? Actually, why would hooks be tender anyways? Quite the system you've developed there. It sounds like a merry-go round so have fun but don't fall off!

Peter S said...

I'm now discovering, with time, that my book needs much more of everything. As if I've gone on a long run and just gotten home to shower and rest, I'm not ready to go back out again. Maybe in another month I can go back and do Full Revision #6. I think with more rest time, the less reverence you have for your words. I'm not afraid of cutting, I'm just afraid of going in and writing what is NOT the story. I guess we should not be afraid of tangential storylines that contribute to character development and thus, to narrative arc. Plot relies on characters which rely on character development, right? Right?

S R Wood said...

Plot is conflict; conflict is faced by characters; characters change. Yes, I think they have to.

But I also think the only way to see if it works is to try it: rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal until one day -- with any luck -- you realize the performance of a lifetime has snuck up on you and the book is "finished."

Ha ha, just kidding, it's never finished!