Monday, May 29, 2017

Revision is perfecting it after you've written it.

Revision is perfecting it after you've written it.
Some authors try for a perfect first chapter before going on with the book. Not a good idea. You can always fix it later, once you know what the story is. Frankly, I would go crazy trying to perfect one sentence at a time, because what happens later in my books almost always changes what I've said earlier in the books. However, if you inspect every word and seek a perfect one, you’ll won’t finish your novel. Besides, no one is going to pay money for a first chapter only, even if it is perfect. 

I am a Virgo. Some of us are cursed with a desire for perfection. We seldom reach it; we just want to. However, perfectionism will ruin your writing if you let it. You don’t have to hush your perfectionist trait; you just have to say “not yet.” You can perfect the book later on when you revise it. Sure, it should be nearly perfect eventually, but it does not need to be nearly perfect right away.

Nothing you write is carved in stone until you publish it and, even then, you can make corrections. The secret draft is never final; it's just a starting place. Even if it's imperfect by nature, the secret draft is far more productive than staring at a blank screen because you're determined the first sentence you write should be perfect. Secret drafts are for experiments, adventures and easily forgiven misses.

What works for me is to write a secret draft as far as I can and go back and fix things as they occur to me. Once finished, I print out a semifinal draft on cheap paper. Then, using a red pen, I go through the hard copy, make corrections and suggest revisions. I go back to the computer, rewrite and revise using the hard copy as my guide.

So how do I begin the edit?

The first thing you do when your secret draft is complete is to go through the manuscript and do the little repairs that have been in the back of your mind, or on little slips of paper, as you wrote the secret draft. I usually do most of the little fixes as I go along. However, there are often others, which crop up by the time I'm done.

If you changed the name of a character, for example, or decided a scene should be inserted in Chapter 5, and a flashback from Chapter 2 should be moved to Chapter 15, this is the time you should go back and fix these things.

I do what I call my senses pass; I go through and examine each scene to see if I can (without forcing it) involve one of the five senses. I try to find ways to describe the way something smells, or tastes, or the sounds heard by my characters. Again, I do not shoehorn a sense into a scene, but I keep my eyes open for the possibilities.

(From NOVEL SECRETS (paperback or Kindle)

Lary Crews