Monday, May 7, 2012

Revise or Die

Last weekend I was asked by someone how I was able to get through revisions. The person had finished her first novel, but was avoiding revising and editing. My answer probably didn't help her much, but I told her that I actually enjoy revising more than writing.

Writing a book is hard. It just is. Besides coming up with a story, characters, dialog, etc, it's hard to actually sit down and write. But once you've pounded out the first draft, to me that's when the fun starts. Once the story is complete, then you get to go back and make it better.

When I finished Oldsoul, I figured I would need to go back through and fix a few typos and maybe add a little extra to some scenes. Well, first of all, there were many, many more than a few typos. (In fact, over a year after finishing the first draft I was still coming across typos.) That part wasn't so much fun, and if that's what this person was talking about, I agree.

I had also underestimated how much I really needed to revise. In the end, I probably ended up revising Oldsoul seven or eight times, both with feedback from beta readers and friends and just on my own. And each time the story got stronger and better. It was actually fun going into scenes and figuring out how to make things more interesting and exciting. The heavy lifting was done. Now it was just a matter of going in and adding some extra zing. Of course I came across roadblocks and scenes that were difficult to revise. But in the end I fought through them, and the finished product, while still imperfect, is miles better than my first draft.

So my advice to this person and to everyone who writes: Don't be afraid of revising. If you've written a first draft, you owe it to yourself and your story to revise it and make it the best it can be. Granted, you might not enjoy it, but you and your story will be better off for it. 


Jamie Manning said...

Such a great post, Dan, and it will tie-in nicely with my post for tomorrow (my first here on ADR3NALIN3).

Jordan Dane said...

I edit as I go. When I'm done, I AM DONE. baby. I can't do the drafts thing. Too impatient You might be the first guy I know who LIKES revisions, but good advice, Dan. It IS an oppotunity to enhance your book.

Dan Haring said...

Thanks Jamie!
@Jordan, really? I don't think I would ever finish if I revised as I went. To each their own :)