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  • Writer's pictureKristina Atkins

I Actually Love Revising

I know, I know. That’s a big claim to make. And not a popular one either. That would be like saying I don’t like lolcats. WHICH IS UNTRUE.

I’ve been reading writing blogs for a while and I’ve learned this: many writers abhor don’t particularly enjoy revising. Well, I’m here to say, proudly, that I do! I may like it more than drafting, but I’ll be honest, it’s been over a year since I wrote a first draft (tear, sniff, sob).

To me, revising is like putting a puzzle together. First I get all of the critiques/notes back from my professor/writing group/mailman. And at first, I’m really, really excited about everything they’ve suggested.


“Why didn’t I think of that?”

“Of course a penguin would be a better costume! The metaphor!”

BUT, there are still a lot of suggestions that don’t have easy answers. So, I let it stew.

Sometimes for a while.

*Checks watch*

*Checks calendar*

That’s about right. And then I get started on the small fixes first. The easy ones like: “Worded awkwardly, is what I think of this sentence.” Re-write said sentence and BAM! Done.

Eventually I run out of small stuff to fix. And it’s time for the big ones. This is where I pull out my handy-dandy notebook.

I scroll through my manuscript to the first problem and start taking down notes. Okay, this scene doesn’t seem to be working hard enough. Should I move it? Do I need to amp up the tension? Should I just cut it all together? Usually, I can find a solution without too much trouble or involving other scenes in the book. Sometimes, though, it gets more complicated than that. I have to move the scene (this happened a lot in my latest revision of Red Sky). That involves a lot of adding and subtracting from the scenes around it.

Other times the scene needs to be reworked completely. Like, I like the idea of it, but it’s not working. So, it gets rewritten. But say there are lines from the previous incarnation that I really, really like. As I write, I might find ways to use them. If not, those darlings are MURDERED.

The end result is a draft that I feel is tighter, more engaging, better written, and just plain AWESOME. Of course, the ultimate goal is to need less of these bigger-types of revisions. I haven’t gotten that far yet with either of my manuscripts. But that’s okay! Because I’m enjoying the revising in the meantime.

Some strategies I want to incorporate in future books: keeping lists of each char’s motivations (via Veronica Roth), use Scrivener, have some sort of board (inspired by Miss Cole) where I can write out all of the chapters and what happens plot-wise in each (to check on my pacing and what not).

And, on a related note, I’ve been thinking some time about Sparks–mostly, concerns and doubts about the plot. A recent shredding critique from my writing group confirmed my fears. The book needs an entire over haul. At first, I was just going to shelf it for a few months while I contemplated what direction to take it. I don’t want to stash it permanently because I love the characters. Love them so. dang. much. But I didn’t think I had the attention/energy to rework the plot right now, with school and all that. Then on Friday night, while laying in bed wide awake in the middle of the night, I thought of the beginning of my solution. And a new opening! And of course I had to go write it right then and there! So I did! And now I’m excited about the story. I’m definitely going to cut some characters, and it will probably change from a trilogy to a two-part series. But that’s okay! Because I still get to play with Vi and all her friends. And my love for the story has been rekindled. So … yay!

What about you? Do you like revising? What is your process? Have any tips you care to share? (Because sharing is caring, and rhyming is fun.)

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