Thanks to Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson for this blog post. They two are co-faculty for our annual Revision Retreat.
Why revise your manuscript? Good writers get their manuscript right the first time, don’t they? Not in our experience! Here are some of the reasons you might need to revise your manuscript, or even to find a new way to revise it when your old familiar way isn’t working:
Your first draft is not your best one. Your second one won’t be either. It may take you 5 revisions, 10 revisions, or more until you get there.
You’ll learn so much more about your story–and about your writing. Discovering your strengths and weaknesses as a writer will help you in the future. As editor Emma D. Dryden says: “With revision comes revelation.”
You need to look at the big picture, the structure of the story as a whole, and see what’s working. There may be some surprises there.
You can check that you are targeting the right audience. Do you have a middle grade character in a YA story? Is your picture book really a chapter book?
You aren’t Gary Paulsen, who was famous for delivering manuscripts that didn’t need editing. But here’s a secret: while that may be true, Paulsen must have been highly skilled at self-editing. That’s a skill you can develop.
Revision gives you an opportunity to look at each element more closely–setting, character, voice, plot and relationships, and find weak spots and ways to fix them.
You need to fine-tune your manuscript before you submit to editors and agents. It’s a bunny-eat-bunny world out there…
But it’s not all hard work. Revision also gives you the opportunity to play with your story, create new characters and situations, reveal or uncover new directions.
You’ve realized that your tried-and-true method isn’t working. In fact, though all writers do have their preferred methods, writing is always presenting new problems, which need new solutions.
You know you can use feedback from others–editors, critique groups, and the like–that will help you fine-tune your vision.
But don’t take our word for it. Jane Yolen includes revision as one of the “Three writing rules I live by.” They are: “Write something every day. (BIC). Revision is your best friend. A mss. in the drawer or on the laptop that isn’t sent out cannot be bought.”
Give it a try! And if you don’t want to do it on your own, get some help learning the revision process and useful tools and techniques at our workshop:
Posted on: June 13, 2018