Tuesday, 14 June 2011
The Revision Process
I have a love/hate relationship with revisions. I'm definitely not a one-pass person and admire those who can write something perfect first time. My story-writing journey tends to be a more complicated affair - starting with a mad-dash first draft and then going through several cycles of correction until I'm happy with the final result. It's a bit like whittling pebbles down to sand and there's no way of really knowing how long this process will take. I revised my first novel ten times and it still isn't finished. I'm hoping that my second novel will be ready in fewer cycles, but quality will dictate.
I've approached the revisions for my second novel from a completely different perspective, working through Novel Metamorphosis by Darcy Pattison, and then drawing up an outline. Although the structured exercises might not be to everyone's taste, they definitely worked for me. Darcy Pattison asks the author to reflect on each aspect of their novel - plot, character, language - and then refine these using various techniques and strategies. I'm now re-shaping the novel to fit the new outline, although being a pantser at heart, I'm not finding it that easy! It's also becoming clear that this won't be a simple quick fix for the novel. The plot might be tighter, but with each rewrite, the characters are still revealing their personalities and motivations - rich material that I can't overlook. I expect that there'll be at least another two drafts, maybe more.
So how do you revise your novels? Do you strive to get it right first time or do you redo it until you're happy? Do you use workbooks or rely on your own judgement? I'd love to hear how other authors sharpen up their stories.