What I Am Learning about Revision from My Agent and Editors

  1. I try to keep a light heart: Revision can be an expanding part of the creative process. With the right editorial people, revision can bring out the best in a story.

 

  1. I slow my roll: I’m not gonna lie: seeing lots of “suggestions for improvement” on my work inspires many (ahem) feelings. I now read those suggestions, put them away, do other things, and come back to the work in 24 hours, rather than respond immediately. Considered overnight, most suggestions have turned out to be spot-on, but I couldn’t see that at first glance. The suggestions that still don’t seem right simply become points for discussion.

 

  1. I read differently now. I can’t read anything without seeing where tighter editing might have improved a work—not only my own, but everyone’s!

 

  1. True confession: despite having a master’s degree in English and reading voraciously for decades, I did not know that every scene in a novel is supposed to move the story forward. I really did not ever grasp that fact! After working on revisions for my first novel, where I was asked “What’s the point?” about a couple of scenes, I learned that “It’s funny!” is not enough justification for a scene to exist. This has been a game changer for me! Now, when I edit my own work before sending it in, I ruthlessly slash every scene that does not advance the story. Or, if I love the scene too much to cut it, I add what that scene needs to make it an integral part of the story.

 

  1. I am grateful for everyone who takes the time to study what I have written and make suggestions which I may or may not follow. Every writer wants to be carefully read.

 

Please share your thoughts on writing and revision here!