Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Revision--The Long View

Writing is an easy, quick way to get rich, right? I know, I know, stop laughing.

We've all learned that writing can be a long, arduous process that's not for the faint of heart. It's a profession where dogged determination rises above speed. It involves hard work, constant learning, failure, and the desire to take the long view of our writing careers.

I'm preparing to tackle the daunting task of a big revision. I opened REVISION AND SELF EDITING** by James Scott Bell and instantly felt at ease. He reminds us that most successful people take "the long view." For example, doctors train for years before they're able to practice medicine. It's a long road for them, but in the end, it's worth it. Same with writing. When it comes to revision, Bell advises, "Don't look at the mountaintop. Look at the path in front of you." Here are some of Bell's wise words about revision:

Take the long view and learn to see revision as a friend. Being a smart, disciplined reviser delivers a number of benefits:
  • It makes you a better writer. With each revision session you learn more about your craft, and the next time you write you'll write stronger.
  • It marks you as a professional. Editors and agents who see your work ethic will be more certain of your ability to produce good books.
  • It builds confidence and encourages you to stretch your horizons.
  • It is its own reward. When you've put in good, solid revision time, you rest easier at the end of the day.
This is why I heart James Scott Bell. Our favorite books were revised like crazy, and we should expect to do the same. Yes, a major revision takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work, but future readers deserve nothing less from us.

Is revision your favorite or least favorite part of the process? And have you ever tackled a major revision?

**Yes, I'm obsessed with Bell's books. I refer to them over and over again because his writing books have helped me that much. I'm sharing what I'm learning along the way.

51 comments:

  1. Another blogger talked about revision yesterday and said it was one of her favorite things to do with her books. NOT ME!! I'm rewriting now and struggling the whole way. I love the first draft and embrace line editing, but this rewrite is killing me...(in a good way, of course).
    erica

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  2. How would an agent or editor see you revising? You have to revise before you send to them. Of course a lot of published books I doubt have been revised much at all, especially those by well-established authors.

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  3. Yes, I have tackled a major revision. It took me five months and I had a very difficult time, but I made it! I kind of like revising at times, other times...ugh. Best of luck, Julie. It'll be great:)

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  4. Hi Julie...I too love JSB's book. My current post is about it. After reading it, I am enjoying my revision process. Actually I even revised the short story collection I wrote two years back keeping his points in mind.

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  5. I have mixed feelings regarding revisions. Sometimes, I look forward to the process, other times I dread it.

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  6. SO that's why I should like revision... LOL! It is AMAZING the difference in a manuscript that's been revised vs. a first, or even second, third, and fourth attempt!

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  7. Thanks for the tip on the John Scott Bell book!

    Revisions are tricky. It's a mixed bag for me. It depends on what I'm revising.

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  8. I have a love hate relationship with revising. If I know how to fix it and it's just doing it - then I love it. When I'm stuck and not sure how to revise-I hate it. But overall I love seeing something real take shape.

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  9. I love those benefit bullet points! Thanks for sharing info about Bell :)

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  10. I'm nearing the end of one right now, but I know it's making the book better. And you're right, every time I write something new, I write stronger because of the meticulous hours put into fixing it. I catch things easier on a rough draft.

    I heart James Scott Bell, too!

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  11. I love his book Plot and Structure, I'm going to have to get this one on revision.

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  12. I haven't seen any of Bell's writing books, but i will put them on my to read list. What wonderful tips! And I much prefer revision to writing that first draft.

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  13. I love his outlook! I can't believe I haven't read his book yet! Thank you so much for the recommendation. I'll definitely check it out!

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  14. is hard for me. My favorite part is the rough draft. Everything after that takes so much longer for me.

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  15. I'm actually currently in the process of major revision with my publisher, and it does require much patience. For me, it's a bittersweet process. I love the feeling of getting closer and closer to the completed project and seeing the story get more the shape that it needs to be in, but I hate having to go through the MS over and over again, focusing on every detail, trying to pinpoint my faults, rewrite and change things that I once loved about my story. However, this is all part of the writing process and eventually turns out for the best. =)

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  16. I struggle during the draft phase and really thrive during the revision stage. I love it seeing my work transform. And I learn so much. Even though it's a slow process. You always come out with stronger writing.

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  17. We should rest easy? I should be sleeping really well at night then!

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  18. I'm not sure if anything can compare to the pure creation of the first draft, but I must say that revisions have so far gotten a special spot in my heart.

    There's something very rewarding to improving everything line by line, scene by scene.

    :-)

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  19. I'm learning to like it. I hated it for all 4 iterations of my first book and the first revision of my second... then I wrote several more books, did beta reading for several friends and somewhere something sunk it as to what revision actually IS... I think I've made peace with it now... DEFINITELY a long view...

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  20. Great revision advice. I'm almost...ALMOST done. I can't seem to get through this last little bit.

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  21. Great advice! I'm almost done my first draft so I'm going to need to remember those points soon enough. :-)

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  22. I'm rewriting a wip, so yeah I'm revising. The idea first filled me with dread, but seeing the manuscript take on a better shape is so satisfying.

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  23. I am reading Bell's PLOT AND STRUCTURE right now and loving it. I'm learning something on every page. I love the revision process. It feels like a treasure hunt as I find all the "keepers" that are in my first draft.

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  24. Wow I needed this post in the worst way. I'm currently avoiding revisions like the plague. But to take "The long view" is such good advice. I think I jumped into the "trying-to-get-published-right-now" phase too quickly.

    I just found this blog and I'm so glad I did! I just started my own blog about a month ago and I'd love for you to check it out!
    www.3pointperspective.blogspot.com
    Thanks again!

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  25. Just found this blog and I love the positive attitude with which you approach revisions. I've done several major revisions. It feels never-ending sometimes--write the story, edit, revise, edit, revise, edit, edit, and for good measure, edit some more! It can be frustrating and annoying at times, but it really is worth it to see the polished novel at the end!

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  26. I'm so glad you keep mentioning James Scott Bell because the other day he sent a tweet that his book, Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure, was marked down to $1.99 for Kindles, so I jumped on it, even though I shouldn't be spending any money, but what a deal! And it's chock full of great stuff! Then someone else tweeted that his book was marked down to $1.99 for the Nook, too. I don't know if the price is still marked down, but it's worth checking into if anyone doesn't have that book yet and has a Kindle or Nook. Thanks for this post.

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  27. Great attitude Julie!!! Revisions aren't easy for anybody (at least no one I know LOL) but arming yourself with knowledge and a good persepctive makes the process that much easier:)

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  28. Initially I didn't like revisions but now I enjoy it. :)

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  29. I am a huge fan of the books of James Scott Bell, too. A few of them sit on my desk, always within reach. And I embrace revising. Getting the first draft written is miserable for me, but I love, love, love to revise.

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  30. I haven't read that book! Maybe I need to. ;o) It's funny you and I both are talking about revision today on our blogs. That is SO true about not looking at the whole mountain, because THAT is intimidating. One step/scene/fix at a time...

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  31. Much luck with your revision process. It takes so much time, but the product is definitely worth it.

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  32. Gotta love the path! No path, no story.

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  33. Just wanted to let you know I linked to this entry on my blog. I was so impressed with it I wanted to share it again. I hope that's okay! Thanks again!

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  34. So much valuable insight. Thank you! And thank you for finding me. I am totally clueless as to how I've missed your fabulous blog.

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  35. Oh, I want that book! I just read an excerpt from it in the latest Writer's Digest, and it made me a James Scott Bell fan. I'm in the middle of a big revision now, and find what he has to say so clear and helpful. Good luck with your revision. I hope you are enjoying the process.

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  36. Hey, Julie. Edits make my work stronger, tighter, and crisper. Major revisions are tough, though, especially when they occur in the beginning. Then you have to work your way all the way through the book. Yowzie! Thanks for a great post.

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  37. I have a wip that I've revised 12 times over 10 years. I've spent thousands of hours working on it. It gets better every revision. I have a dream :)

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  38. Sounds like a wonderful book. Something I need right now, in fact. Thanks!

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  39. I think revision is actually my favorite part of the process. It's easier for me to shape the clay than dig the clay out of the depths of my brain in the first place.

    Good luck with your big revision!

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  40. Wonderful post, Julie. Revisions cannot be overemphasized. I think of it like a gymnast (or really any athlete or dancer) -- it takes months and years of practice (revising), doing the same thing over and over again before it can look flawless before an audience.

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  41. I used to dread revisions. Right now I am in the middle of one and I think you are right that it helps you become better and it can be rewarding. I am going to check this book out because it sounds very helpful. Thanks for the post :)

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  42. Thx for the advice... I'll def give the book a read.

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  43. I just made my first real venture into revision-land. I do like it, so long as I focus on one thing at a time. I can get a bit overwhelmed if I start worrying about how much there is to tackle. Thanks for another great post!

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  44. I love James Scott Bell too! I saw him speak at a conference and his was my favorite session. I'm excited to dive into revisions. I've been first-drafting for way too long!

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  45. Thanks so much for reminding me about James Scott Bell. I LOVE his writing book, The Art of War for Writers, and am going to buy the one on revision you mentioned. Yay! (Timing perfect: starting today, facing big and hopefully final ms. revision.)

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  46. Thank you! I need to hear stuff like this right now as I'm mired in edits...

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  47. I love doing revisions and challenging myself with each draft. I'm currently doing massive rewrites due to a brillant beta reader's comments. :D

    Did I mention I love doing revisions? ;)

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  48. I love doing the first draft...but second version is better and after my critique partners see it the next version is even better. It's all about making the best story you can....

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  49. I love love love Bell's book on Revisions. He gives such good advice. I'm struggling through my revisions but I know the book will be better for it. Good luck on your revisions!

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  50. Thanks for the book recommendation. Editing and revisions can be overwhelming and if there's a guide to help ease the process - all the better.

    New follower

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