Revision: It’s Not as Scary as You Think

February 14, 2013

jessiecleverrevisionSomething miraculous happened to me recently.

I found an editor.

Like a real one.

One with amazing insight and thoughts and ideas and –

Wait for it…

Actual constructive criticism!

I personally have never encountered constructive criticism and had always believed it was just an internet myth, but then there it was in all its shining glory.  And I bowed down at the throne.

You see, the first manuscript I ever wrote was pretty good, but it wasn’t fabulous.  But as I will be self publishing in a little bit, I really wanted to beef it up so I could publish the whole series.  The other story in the series that is already completed is really good, and I didn’t want the first one dragging it down.  So I sent it out there for some help, and it came back like a boomerang, brimming with suggestions that were actually useful.

And so I began putting them into action, and do you know what happened?

I remembered why I loved writing in the first place.

It turns out revision can be a wonderful thing.  You can take the perspective of a reader and apply it to a work that you have been staring at for months and months and sometimes years, and suddenly, it’s brand new!

But a word of warning, once you start you cannot stop, so make sure you have the time to dedicate to revision.  And do not be afraid of it.  You might just surprise yourself.

Some tips that help me with revision:

  • Don’t throw anything out.  When I cut whole scenes, I do a control X and move them to another section of Scrivener that I label “unused scenes”.  You can do the same with another word doc.
  • Just do it.  If something doesn’t “sound” right, cut it.  Move it to the unused folder, and start over.  You can always put it back if you didn’t come up with something better.
  • Use PDFs to your advantage.  They are incredible.  Export and compile from Scrivener in a PDF or do a save as in Word to a PDF, and use the tools that programs like Acrobat or Preview give you to annotate a PDF.  You can add highlights, write notes or stick on post its right in the PDF.
  • Get a tablet.  This is actually a suggestion of another writer seeing as how my husband refuses to give me a tablet.  (This is a joke with him, and we’ll see if he actually reads this.  I’ll let you know if I hear about it.)  Put the marked up PDF of your manuscript on the tablet and set it on your desk next to your computer while you revise

Those are just a few things you can do to make revising a little less scary.

But I will tell you.  Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as constructive criticism, and I have seen it.



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