We all need encouragement and inspiration to write a story, but that kind of support is easy. We tell you how you have so much to say and you’ll say it so well. We remind you that you have a unique voice, and that we can’t wait to read your work. Then we ship you off to your study or desk with everything from a plate of beans and coffee to filet mignon and a glass of wine and wait for your golden manuscript to appear.
Okay, who said, ‘Yeah, right’?
All right, I get it. Writing isn’t that easy; neither is helping someone write. But it can be easier than the next step. Revision.
I enjoy a number of creative pursuits besides writing. One is house renovation. Ask anyone; I’d rather build a new bathroom than clean one.
Recently I heard Canadian Contractor turned YouTuber Jeff Thorman (Home RenoVision DIY), remark that “Anytime we’re doing dry wall mud or any other kind of finishing, we start from rough and push toward finished.”
The concept applies to a lot of creative endeavors besides building.
Dance – even choreography starts with rough blocking of movement before it finalizes into polished dance steps and poses.
How often do we tell writers: Just get the first draft done; get the main story down in print. Then you can go back and rework it.
Rework it. Revise. Revision is, according to some 90% of writing. What does the process look like? Many writers work in steps.
- Revision 1 may be to remove all the over-used words. We each have our ‘favorites’, our personal crutches that we put in when we think there is a blank space that needs filling, eg, just, very, that. So the first pass may be to remove those unnecessary placeholders from our manuscript.
- The next one may be to clarify passages, put more imagery into description, add more authenticity to dialogue, more substance to characters.
- Revision No. 3 may be to remove the new set of over-used words. You can throw in eliminating the overworked phrases for good measure.
- An entire new pass to straighten out the plot tangles resulting from added material in Revision 2
And so on.
First draft, second draft, …, thirtieth draft. However many it takes to reach the point where you put down your pen and decide it is really…
The list here doesn’t encompass the question of how to fix things. My next few blog posts will deal in greater detail with the agony of revision, an agony only outweighed by its value.
“Anytime we’re doing dry wall mud or any other kind of finishing, we start from rough and push toward finished.”Jeff thorman Home RenoVision DIY