If At First You Don’t Succeed…Revise, Revise Again

Workout Song of the Day: “Drop the World” by Lil Wayne ftg. Eminem

I’ll be the first to admit it–I’m not a fan of criticism. Neither giving it or receiving it. In workshops, even when I know that someone’s writing isn’t exactly up to par, I’ll sugarcoat it with the most random compliments. I love the main character’s name. That one line was really funny!

And when I receive something outside of adulation in my own writing, I may react a little like this…

I’m completely distraught. I wave my fists at the world. Then I drop the story and move on to something else.

Until now.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a little (okay, a lot) absent from my blog. That’s because I’ve been a.) working on the first draft of my thesis paper, and b.) finally completing my first novel! We interrupt this post for a brief booty-shaking dance:

With that said and done, I read over it, allowed my cousin to read over it, made a few minor changes, and shipped it off to my dream agent.
I think you know what happened next.
I was pretty lucky, though. My dream agent took out extra time from her busy schedule to actually provide me notes. How awesome is that? Additionally, she said that I could try her again in a few months.
So, even though I am nowhere near the guru of revising, here is my plan of action:
  1. Find beta readers besides my cousin. Don’t get me wrong, I heart my cousin, and she gives me the morale boost I need to not just toss away this crazy notion of becoming a published writer. But we’re practically the same person. And if you’ve encountered either of us, that’s pretty scary. So I need maybe two or three others that can give me a fresh perspective on my novel. I plan on visiting the Absolute Write Water Cooler and Verla Kay Blue Boards to put in my requests. And if you haven’t by now, check out both of these sites–they’re on my sidebar!
  2. Put my manuscript away. For a while. Maybe even for a month or two. This story is very personal to me, and I love all my characters. But it’s kind of like spending time with your family–you need to see them in small doses or you’ll get a little irritated. I don’t want my frustration to steer my story in the wrong direction.
  3. Read all the input from my beta readers. Then,
  4. Work on the major suggestions first. Does a character need to be changed? Does a side-plot not work? I know it seems crazy to tackle the huge issues first, but this is how I always did homework. I got history out of the way (boo! hiss!), and then rewarded myself with English.
  5. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I know that this process seems lengthy, but if I want to be serious about the writing business, I definitely need to be serious about revising. What about you all? What’s your revising process? What works and what doesn’t work? I need all the help I can get!


4 thoughts on “If At First You Don’t Succeed…Revise, Revise Again

  1. YAY! I am so flippin' proud of you πŸ™‚ And thanks for spelling out the process- it's helpful for me to read it like that πŸ™‚ By the way, did I say, FREAKIN' YEAH!!!!! I am so, so happy for you- and for the rest of your followers of Pam's blog- you might want to ask to be her beta reader because her novel is STUPID GOOD! It is soooooo heart wrenching, thought provoking, fun, moody- everything! It won't leave you and you will be able to say that you read the best-seller in it's early stages.

  2. I might have gone excessive but my Local Band is in its 10th revision. I think the first four or five revisions were me trying to figure out how to bring together my writing style and a novel-length work. I know that the writing/outlining process was much easier on successive manuscripts. I think you can always revise — there's always something that will stick out. But for major revisions, you sometimes have to let go of your preconceptions. I went into my last revision on a mission to cut as many words as possible. After getting some feedback from a few writer pals, I really got into a rhythm of asking "is it vital?" and cutting it if the answer was no. It SUCKED cause I killed some of my favorite lines, but so it goes…

  3. Great suggestions, Mike! I think I have a problem with letting go, but I so need to get over myself. And thanks Quita–please don't tell anyone I paid you to write that. πŸ™‚

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