Revise or die

(picture from Flickr Creative Commons by marsmettn tallahassee)



Does anyone love to revise? Please step forward and take a bow. I have this love-hate relationship with revisions. Afterwards, I love them but in the present tense, revisions are messy, tortuous and just plain headachy. Can you guess I’ve just tackled mine?  After the torture, you do get the shiny golden  fruit of your efforts. But!

You have to go over the story sometimes from backwards to forwards. In case you change one thing e.g. what the heroine is wearing in a particular scene, you have to go change it in every place subsequently which mentions that dress. If your heroine wore glasses and later for some reason you give her 20/20 vision, you’d have to fix every place she was nervous and attempted to slide them back on her nose as a habitual gesture. God forbid if there’s an incident where she can’t see properly and for instance mistakes a person e.g. the hero for someone else, you’d have to delete that particular scene . If heavens are unrelenting and you put that a meeting point for H/h then you might have to…hold your breath…rebuild your whole first draft. Ewww!

Of course there’s a good side to revisions too. They give you a chance to go over the weak points of your story, tighten the wandering dialogue into meaningful (or hopefully meaningful) and the opportunity to go down some new by lanes which might – who knows – give you some unexpected spice for your story. Happens! Then you’re glad you took the courage in both hands and tackled this Minotaur.

The method I find useful in doing revisions is:

FIRST thing to make a list of what needed to be changed.

SECOND to cut and paste each point on that list to the appropriate place in the ms.

THIRD to take a good read of the ms and decide what cannot be changed during revising. Yes, had a tough time with this.  But had to, otherwise I found I was changing too much and losing track. Also during the reading I found it useful to mark any new points I thought should be redone.

THEN you can go about and expand on the points as you see fit. Do go back and reread the whole again and again to make sure everything flows well. Or have a beta reader do that for you. Rereading is again wearing on the nerves. I can tell you a point came when I was developing a rash everytime I opened the file! However, part of being a writer is developing a tough hide. So that comes in handy when you have to do such things. Manfully I did go over it and plan to at least twice more before I publish.

FINALLY, what I’d emphasize is do not delete previous work. If you find your characters going off in a new direction,  humour them a bit, usually you get something worth saving from all the flights of fancy.

Next review and tighten.

Repeat n number of times.

Keep coffee handy at all times.

So there! You might survive.

Do hope you don’t have as messy a method as mine. I recently shifted part of the scene for Tahir and Samara’s story to add pace to the next part and lighten the previous scene. That is I broke up the conversation into two bits. And the surprise was on me because this little stanza cropped up out of nowhere to provide continuity to the original scene.

His gaze fell on her…he was looking at her…Checking her out? She wasn’t sure because Tahir didn’t do it. He was so strictly professional that she usually had trouble keeping up. She’d felt guilty often when her attention changed from a PA to that of a woman. Which was why she had gone the other extreme…tried to conceal every wish to look more feminine…more enticing to him. Pride had made her wrap those wishes, the feminine wiles and impulses and put them away. She had tried to be every bit computer efficient to his work driven attitude.

Now his gaze ran down her legs and dropped to her feet stretched out in front of her. Could feet blush? Hers would in a second!

‘You have very trim ankles,’ he said. Enclosed in black straps circling them, they lay crossed and now tense and vulnerably exposed to his lingering gaze. ‘So slender and delicate.’ He said.

Was he finding her ankles sexy? She didn’t know she should be pleased or annoyed that he was fixating on her ankles!

Saucy but sweet! What do you think? 😉


Have you tackled revisions? And if yes, how did you go about it? Did you like doing them or hated them at first but liked them in the end? (Me!). Or was it all uphill for you?

I would love to know, so do share!

2 thoughts on “Revise or die

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