Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Revisions -- Make it Shorter or Longer?

Revising is a painful process. It's like performing major surgery (removing what may seem to be vital organs) to hopefully come up with a better product. So, prepare for the pain, if you want to improve your work. Remember, anything great comes from hard work. And great writing is indeed hard work.

There are many advice books on writing, and many of them quite useful, too! Some authors will give you guidelines, such as Stephen King (yeah, I know...I keep referencing him, but he really does have a lot of great things to share!) who advises the author to cut 10 percent from the original manuscript. Why ten, I'm not sure. But who knows? Maybe he's studied the numerous books he's written and the average amount he slashed and dashed is ten percent. Whatever the amount, it makes a point. This tactic encourages you to use more effective vocabulary, thus tightening your writing, keeping a steady pace throughout the story.

Now, just when you think you've got it, that you totally understand what's needed to revise and create the perfect novel or story -- well, I'm about to confuse you. In Manuscript Makeover Elizabeth Lyon advises you to expand on characters or scenes when you see they are lacking clarity. (See my previous post -- Revising and Fuzzy Details) So, now you need to add more to your revisions!

Bottom line, when you are revising: 1) get rid of the empty words and passages that don't add to the plot and 2) clarify the scenes that just don't make sense or lack impact. It's not easy. Nobody ever said it would be. But if you truly have a passion for writing, you will stick with it, and keep on revising until you've got it right! To be noted, this is only one aspect of revising. There are obviously many other points and features to address. Check out the many books available with advice on revising. And good luck. Let us know your experiences with revising. Maybe you have a few great advice books you'd like to recommend. So, let's hear what you have to say.

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