What do you think of when you hear the word “revision”? Do you complain, “Oh, no! More work!” Do you get excited that now you’ll get to the part of writing you love most? Or do you find yourself somewhere in between these two sentiments?
Whether you hate revision, love it, or are neutral about it, the truth is that as a writer of fiction, you will need to revise.
So what is revision? The word “revision” means “to see again”. In other words, it means to take a second look–and, possibly, a third, fourth, and fifth–look at your story to ensure that it conveys what you want it to convey in terms of characterization, plot, entertainment value, and message.
Revision involves not only technical matters—like grammar, punctuation, and style. It also involves plausibility, pacing, and power.
As you revise, ask yourself the following questions:
• Have I given my protagonist a clear goal that remains present to my reader’s mind and emotions throughout my story?
• Have I given my protagonist increasingly difficult obstacles and raised the stakes as my story progresses?
• Have I made sure that my protagonist solves her problem herself?
• Have I given my protagonist an external story that parallels and intertwines with her internal story?
• Have I established cause-and-effect consistently, thereby creating a linear logic that ensures plausibility?
• Have I paced my story to create an ebb-and-flow so that I neither exhaust my reader nor bore her?
• Have I used all five senses in creating my scenes?
• Have I kept to a single point of view (POV) in each scene?
• Have I used strong verbs, thereby eliminating the need for most adverbs?
• Have I used nouns that accurately describe my characters’ motivations, emotions, and thoughts?
Perhaps you haven’t considered the revision process in the terms stated above. If not, consider revising your view of revision. Once you do, you will discover the truth of the old saying that “writing is rewriting”.
Stated another way, revising is revisiting your story so that the changes you make to it will render your story more powerful and memorable in the minds and hearts of your readers.
Now let’s hear from you. 🙂 Do you like, hate, or feel neutral toward the revision process? What revision techniques work best for you?