“My pencils outlast their erasers.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov
I’m always reminding my students that “good writing is re-writing”.
I push them to read their work out loud. To look for redundancies. Delete unnecessary phrases. Re-order sentences.
This is only a start, of course. Revising is not the same as editing. A perfectly grammatical essay can still be trite, boring, or nonsensical.
First comes the vision, then many revisions.
What is the essence of your story?
What are you trying to say?
What do you want the reader to think/feel?
Revision is an art that’s both gratifying and frustrating.
Revising a story involves assembling many, many moving pieces into a cohesive whole.
The mission is daunting and best not attempted as a solo task. There are many revision resources to help you.
Deep revision, however, means seeing your story through fresh eyes. This is not easy to do when you’ve been working on the same novel for three years.
That’s where critique partners, beta readers, mentors, and editors come in. These team players will gently point out flaws in your game. They’ll notice inconsistencies, pose thoughtful questions, and suggest revisions to help you reach your peak performance.
Sometimes these revisions are painful to employ.
Like cutting out large sections, or crafting a new beginning.
Or saying goodbye to a character.
Or changing the ending you thought was pretty darn clever.
In order to revise you must take in the big picture…
and then re-vision the story.
When your clouded eyes begin to see anew, change is possible.
The art of writing revision can be applied to our lives.
We can look back at certain chapters of our life and realize we had misread them all along. Light shines on the pages. Contrasting colors come into view. Characters take on new dimensions. Truths are revealed. This re-vision shapes tomorrow’s unwritten chapters.
Revision allows for transformation.
We all have stories we tell about ourselves. We cling to these narratives, even when they no longer serve us.
Sometimes we need an editor to help us see where to make deletions, insertions, and add fresh imagery to our story.
And sometimes, the best—and hardest—thing to do is to let go of that story and begin a new one. ~