Revisions: Love ‘em or Hate ‘em
You worked hard on your first draft of your book. You edited it several times, had an alpha reader, and sent it out to a few beta readers. While waiting to hear back from the readers, you were probably thinking, “I might need to make a few changes, but all in all, the story is great. It won’t be long before I publish it and start making some money.”
The day has arrived. The readers have reported back to you with lots of comments and suggestions. Reading through what they wrote, you realize you need to do more than a few minor corrections. The book is not ready for prime time. Your readers have pointed out a number of problems: not staying in point of view, too much telling instead of showing, boring descriptions that do nothing but slow the story down. Confusion between who is saying what or who is doing what and why.
Once you’ve absorbed what they told you — after you throw things at the wall, threaten to never write another word, and consider starting a bonfire with everything you’ve ever written — it’s time to sit down and fix these problems. That’s right, I’m talking about revisions. Yes, something writers don’t like to do, since that means more words need to be cut, scenes rewritten, maybe even the removal of a favorite character. I’m at a point right now where I need to decide whether to cut a couple of characters, or combine them into one new one. Decisions. Decisions.
You need to go through your book scene by scene, making sure they belong. Do they move the story along, or slow things down? Make sure you keep the comments from your readers handy when you’re doing this. Everything you write in your story should advance it in one way or another. The last thing you want to do is lose your reader’s interest through unnecessary descriptions or scenes that don’t go anywhere.
One trick you can use to help in revising your story, is going through the entire book, and for each scene ask the following questions:
- What is the current pov character attempting to do?
- Why are they doing this?
- What or who is preventing them from their goal?
- If they don’t reach the goal, what will happen?
- Do they succeed or fail?
- Is anything in this scene important to the main plot or any of the minor plots in the story?
When you’ve gone through the scenes in your book, make a note of the plot holes that exist, and use the above questions to help create the scene to fill the hole.
Remember, you don’t have to cut everything that doesn’t move the story forward. After all, your characters don’t’ live in a vacuum. Your characters need to be living, breathing people to your readers, not some stick figure going from point A to point B, doing this doing that… The End. They have every day lives which can get in the way of achieving a certain goal or task. You need some fluff, but don’t over do it.
Another thing to consider, when you are reading a book do you skip over parts? If so, ask yourself why. When you read through your work, keep in mind why you skipped over things in books you’ve read.
Love it or hate it, revision is part of the writing process, just like editing. It helps you fine tune your story, giving your readers something enjoyable to read.
May the words ever flow!