Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I used to hate revising stuff. I would put a roughdraft in a drawer for the customary two weeks, then leave it there two months because I dreaded revising it so much. I always ended up doing it, but grudgingly.

Then I wrote my first novel. After tucking it away for a couple months, I slowly began revisions. And I discovered something.

Revising is AWESOME.

It's amazing to begin with something that is just OK, and slowly make it better. And better and better and better (depending on how many revisions you do). Watching the transformation, knowing you are making it happen, is a wonderful feeling. In life we rarely get the chance to revise, so doing it to your story is a great relief.

I don't know why it had to be the novel that made me realize this. Maybe because it was closer to my heart, having taken so long to write; maybe it was just worse than what I usually write and needed more help! But it was what catapulted me from hating revising to actually looking forward to it.

Since that first magical revision, my novel has been revised twice more, and now it is better than ever. This last revision gave me another great realization about the how of revising, one I am going to share with you, my friends:

For this revision (it was done for a real live editor), I wrote a detailed chapter outline, including every tiny thing that happened in each chapter, every single thing I wanted to convey to the reader. It was tedious, sure, and it took me more than a month (for a 140,000 word story). But when it was finished I discovered I had the greatest tool ever for revisions. By reading the outline, I could clearly see what was could be excised, what was inconsistent, which events needed to be rearranged a bit. It also helped me see how much was still unnecessary, and I was able to cut an additional 20,000 words. I have no idea why I never did this before. I will definitely do it for all subsequent novels, and am working on a chapter outline for the book I am writing now. It's marvelous.

So that is my gem of wisdom for today. CHAPTER OUTLINES! It's a beautiful thing, fellow writers.

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