Revising The Revisions

I’m sitting here, everything is in the proper place, my Erotica short is pulled up on the laptop…

…and I’m not touching it. (No pun intended.) I’m really distracted by the music playing, and I’m mostly over here singing along and dancing in my seat. *sighs* It’s just one of those days I suppose.

Except, it really isn’t one of those days. I’m procrastinating on purpose and I know it. The music wouldn’t be on if I wasn’t. The Erotica short I’m working on needs some revisions and I’m putting them off. One thing has lead to another in my scattered brain, and I no longer want to revise. I want to ramble about revising.

Hey, it’s better than nothing.

“Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” ― Michael Crichton

When I saw that quote by Crichton a few months ago, all I could was nod my head and smile. Show me a writer that has successfully published and  sold the first draft of their manuscript. Please. I’d love to meet them. Revisions are a necessary evil in our world. Like it or not, we need them in the  writing process.

Writers are asked many questions about what we do and why we do it. Their curiosity leads them to question us about every aspect of the writing process, revisions are no exception. They want to understand why it takes so long to write a novel sometimes. The time spent and amount of revisions/edits done varies from one writer (and one story) to the next. So, what can we tell them to make them understand us? Let’s find out.

Do you get dizzy going in so many circles?

A little bit, but it’s worth it.

While I’m spinning, I’m learning and improving. Not only my story, but my writing in general, is being improved (at least I hope so) with every revision I make. When the initial writing stage is complete, it’s like a breath of fresh air. We’ve accomplished our goal and finished the story that needed to be told.

Then the butchering begins. I adore the butchering. Not every writer will have the same process, obviously, when it comes to revisions/edits, but it may look something like this: (1) read through the manuscript, remove what isn’t necessary to the story, mark grammar/punctuation issues, etc. (2) make the changes….. (3) then do it all again.

This can be done once or a million times. The process will be complete when the writer feels that they can do nothing more to make the story better on their own. They’re now ready for outside opinions.

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How do you know you’re receiving the proper feedback?

Writers never know how people are going to react to their work. Some will love it, some will hate it. We generally receive conflicting feedback because everyone has different preferences and dislikes when they read a book. Writers have to choose what to take from that information to make our stories better. The only feedback we don’t want, because it helps us not at all, is “I loved it!” or “It sucked!”.

–cue the crickets chirping–

That’s it? That’s all you have for me? Mmmk, thanks.

We are appreciative when people are willing to beta for us, but we need information from them in order to improve the story. (Granted, there are writers who don’t want/can’t take criticism and only want praise for the greatest novel ever written. They are a pain to beta for….to put it mildly.) Bottom line, we need to know what worked and what didn’t for each beta reader we have.

From this information, best if received from multiple sources, we choose what changes to make to the manuscript. The choice is different for every writer and for every story. We’re never going to use all of the feedback we get. It would be impossible to do that. There’s always going to be one person that didn’t like this or that, but another that did. So, we decide which changes are best for the story and go from there.

“Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.” – Bernard Malamud

How can you be sure you’re making the right changes?

The right changes? Hmmm, it depends on how you look at it. As I said above, people have different opinions. Writers make changes in their stories to ensure the flow is consistent. We don’t want our readers halfway into our book to suddenly become bored or disinterested. We want to make sure the reader cares about what happens to the MC(s).

We never know if the changes we’re making are going to work for the overall story. That’s why we have this process. Once the changes are made we can go back and read it again to see how it works. If it doesn’t, more changes will be made until we feel it’s finally right.

Why bother making changes now when you know you’re going to be doing it at some point down the road?

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I’ve heard this question multiple times. Frankly, I start twitching when it’s asked. Nobody’s ever going to consider publishing your story if you send them an unpolished copy. Rejected. Yes, you will undoubtedly be asked to make some changes to the story once it hits the publisher’s desk. Let the butchering begin…again. That being said, writers who are serious about publication aren’t going to send an unfinished copy of a manuscript out. At least, they shouldn’t. As I said before, changes are unavoidable.

It doesn’t matter to us that we’ll have to go through all of this again later. We plod through the revision/edits stage to polish our story to the best of our ability. Why? Because we care about what we’re doing and want to make it as good as possible.

Don’t you want to be done with it all already?!

No — no I don’t.

I mentioned in a recent post that I think writing a novel is like reading a good book. When I’m reading a new book, I don’t want it to end. The same holds true for when I’m writing. I want to go on writing/reading about these people until I get tired of them. When that will be, nobody knows. (I will say that, eventually, I do let go and decide that there’s nothing more I can do for the story. It’s now ready for submission and all I can do is hope for the best.)

Letting the characters look through my eyes while we dissect every word, every twist and turn, delves me deeper into their minds and their worlds. I learn things about them I didn’t know before. I become more familiar with their personalities and how they react to certain situations. I need this to happen, I don’t know about other writers, but for me this is a must. If I’m going through revising and editing and I don’t feel like I’m learning more about the characters/places I write about, then I’m not fully invested in the story. I should be. When this happens, that particular manuscript is set to the side for a little while. Eventually, I will come back to it and try again.

Whether you love it or hate it, the revision/editing process is a must if you want your novel to be as well written as possible. It doens’t take every writer the same amount of time or revisions before they decide it’s right. Hopefully though, after all of the struggling and rearranging, we’ll have made something that turns out to be better than we initially imagined.

“Throw up in your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.” – Raymond Chandler

My POV–Um, POV

See what I did up there in the title? Hehehe, I’m funny.

Ok, so not really.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Point of View (POV) when writing a novel. Normally, I write my novels in some form of third-person POV, usually omniscient or limited. Recently though, I’ve been on this first-person present/first-person past POV kick. (I’m not sure which one I like better yet.) The biggest perk for me in using FPPOV is that I get to keep my main focus on just one person, rather than jumping around with everyone else like I have in the past. Somehow, it just feels…cleaner to me. Yeah, cleaner is the right word for that.

I have this short story I want to submit for AW’s Erotica Anthology. I’ve been working on it off and on for, I think, five or six years now. I know, I know. It’s only a short story, so it shouldn’t be taking me this long. (In my defense I’m even pickier about my Erotica writing than I am about everything else, and it’s not quite right for me yet.) Point is, I want to submit this story, ‘cus there’s a tiny chance it will be picked for the Anthology. (That would be awesome!) Right now though, it’s in TPPOV. Definitely needs to change to FPPOV. So, I start changing it. Wow…just wow. It’s so much better now. Except for–

My dilemma: man or woman’s POV?

Hmmmm…

As my thoughts are journeying down the POV roads, I start wondering, why do I like first-person more now? That’s easy enough to answer. I feel closer to my MC–which, I think, all writers should be striving for–and I get to know him/her better this way. I’m channeling my MC. I am the Oracle; they are the speakers. You see where I’m going with the cheesy cliche’s, right? To me, it’s the most fantastic feeling. Why didn’t I ever write in FPPOV before now? (I checked. There’s not even one story in FPPOV!) It’s like, I was stuck in this TPPOV bubble, and I didn’t even realize it until now. I felt the need to know what was going on all over the place in every story I wrote. Yes, stories written this way have their appeal. I can’t see Lord of the Rings being as good in FPPOV. (Naysayers, shut it. I already know, if it’s written well it can be done.) Point is, I’ve popped the bubble. I’m expanding my horizons.

We must, on our journey, make a stop at second-person POV. It’s a lost and lonely highway, practically abandoned. It’s not something you see often. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a story in second; I’ll have to think about that for a bit…Anyway, it’s a rarity. I wish I had the guts to try writing a story in second. I don’t think I’d ever be able to pull it off though. It would be fun, and a challenge, to write a good story with a bunch of you’s and your’s. Note to self: look for some SPPOV novels.

Now we hit the most traveled road…well, for me. It is well-worn, this road. It has been traveled on for many years, with all manner of people and beings beside me. There are limitations with any point of view you choose, but there are also advantages. With first, I get to delve deep into my MC’s head and with third, I get to dip into everyone’s head. The limitations with third though–I’m beginning to dislike them more and more as time goes by. Yes, I can stay in just my MC’s head in TPLPOV, but it’s not my MC’s voice you’re hearing, it’s mine. I’ve always assumed I was close to these people I write about. That I was getting their words out and not my own. I feel a whole lot closer to them now, trying to rewrite some of their stories in first.

I won’t be changing all of my stories. As I said before, there are advantages to TPPOV. I do think some of them will benefit from the POV change though. That’s the most important thing. The story must be able to draw someone in. If I can’t be drawn in enough, what makes me think anyone else will?

Back At It

Ok, it’s been far too long since I did a post here, or any kind of writing for that matter. That sucks. But thankfully I can get back into it again because I’ve missed it sooooo much. My head is so full of ideas that I can’t keep them all straight anymore. Before I get into any of the new stuff though, other than jotting down the notes and ideas for each of them that pop into my head once in a while, I’ll be revisiting Anniversaries. I’ve been thinking about this book so much lately and I just can’t stay away from it anymore.

Bad news. Completed copies (seriously ALL THREE OF THEM!) are gone now; disc copy, USB copy, hard copy. All gone. Wth?!?! Fortunately I’ve had a critique or two done on it online before so I at least have the extremely rough first chapter to go with. I’m actually glad I don’t have more than that because there was so much that needed to be fixed on it. For those of you that even care, Anniversaries is in the M/T/S genre, rather than my favored Sci-Fi/Fantasy. It was the first one I completed and one of my favorite story ideas I’ve ever had so I’m ok with it being in a different genre than my norm.

So off I go again. Wish me luck and all that jazz. Looking forward to sharing with everyone once again.

Oh and I almost forgot…

As for The Temple, I’ll definitely be getting back into that as well.