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How I Write…Revising

Posted by on July 28, 2010

Many writers groan and cringe  when they hear the word revise, but I actually like this process. If there were a group called revisers anonymous, I would be in it. So, how do I begin?

After I write a chapter or whatever is on the docket for the day, I let it sit until the next day. Then I begin the next day by re-reading my story, starting from the chapter before the chapter I wrote the previous day. I might make some small changes while reading for text flow,wording, re-order sentences, etc. but what usually happens is that I have an aha! Something I couldn’t quite fit together the previous day has solved itself. I believe in my subconscious– I let it do the work for me. = )

A lot of writers write their whole first draft before even thinking about revising. I don’t. I revise while I write. If I come up with a whole new path for my MC and have to tweak the beginning to get my character in the right frame of mind or at the right place to do my bidding, I will go back and revise the story from the beginning to make it happen. And then I’ll continue. I can’t continue to write the story when I don’t feel like everything is in place, but that’s just me!

Revising, I often tell  middle grade students, is really RE-Visioning. Taking the story on a different path than what you first planned. Asking yourself, “what if”. What if my MC was a purple people eater? What if the story was in a swamp instead of a desert? Why couldn’t Edward have been the werewolf? (ha! just kidding!) Often times you’ll come up with a more compelling reason for your MC to be doing what he/she is doing during revision. I find that the kernel is always there, but with revision it gets popped to its fullest potential.

What do you like about revising? How does your process differ from mine? Next Wednesday a thought or two on revision as it has to do with critique groups and  other resources.

Below is the current list of contributing writers to the HOW I WRITE blog series.

Click a link and find out HOW I WRITE! (in alphabetical order, check us all out!)

Kendall Ashby Corbit- Rated R

Kristine Asselin – Rated PG

Tatiana Caldwell – Rated R

Isabelle Flynn – Rated PG

Ansha Kotyk – Rated PG

Laura Pauling – Rated PG

Alexia Reed – Rated R

Gail Roarke – Rated NC-17

P.M. Rousseau – Rated R

5 Responses to How I Write…Revising

  1. Laura Pauling

    There are def. some benefit to revising while you write. And if a big idea pops up that changes the storyline, then I’ll rewrite from wherever I need to. 🙂

  2. Ansha Kotyk

    Interesting. I didn’t know you revised as you wrote… no wonder your stuff is so clean when I read it! I have two very separate gears, writing and revising and neither the two shall meet. Um, which is just sayin’ you may never see a neat sub from me… ;0

  3. Tatiana Caldwell

    So cool to learn how others revise.

    Like Ansha, I have two very separate gears for writing and revising.

    However, if I’m in the middle of drafting chapter 10 and I come up with new vision that requires me to make a change or addition to chapter 1, I will go back and make the change or addition – just in “draft” mode still, you understand? Since I don’t always tend to write my scenes in order anyways, going back to make a change doesn’t necessarily feel like revising to me. It feels like continuing to flesh out the draft.

  4. kris

    Jen — I ALWAYS revise as I write too! I sort of can’t help myself. I guess I’d be sitting beside you at RA. 😉

  5. Kay

    Your thoughts about revision being a re-vision reminds of a quote by Naomi Shihab Nye that I share with my students. It’s at school and I can’t remember it exactly, but it captures the same idea. It’s an idea I try to get across to my students–as well as getting them to ask those questions.

    I’m finding that revising as I go along helps me get unstuck in my draft.

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