It’s been a busy couple of weeks, trying to finish a story (which still isn’t done) and revising three others. One thing that struck me is that the work on a story is just beginning when you complete the first draft of a manuscript. No, this isn’t a new concept to me; I’ve been writing too long to believe all I have to do is write a story and have it instantly perfect. Even my best first drafts need work.
Revisions can be time-consuming, fun, or just plain frustrating. I’ve dealt with all three on one particular manuscript. I know that once I finish this round of revising, I’ll have to revise it at least once more before I can think about submitting it. My critique buddies are awesome and point out all kinds of things I miss, like the bit I cut out of chapter one. I’d discovered a major info dump (huge block of information that interrupted the flow of the story), so I cut it. I knew that some of the information was given later in the story, but I failed to think of one thing: readers don’t know what happens in later chapters. Cutting the info dump was great, but I cut too much. Now I have to go back and add in an essential piece of information.
Other parts of revising that manuscript are fun, because I get to write new paragraphs, add more depth to the characters, and bring the romance out a little more. I love bringing a story to life and making it into what I want it to be. It’s such a satisfying feeling.
Of course, it’s not always fun. I spent several days struggling with how to make an mind-numbingly dull paragraph interesting. Trust me, I threatened to beat my head against my desk many, many times. Last night, I just ignored the original paragraph and put myself in the main character’s shoes. It started slowly, but then the words flowed and I accomplished three things with that single paragraph: set up the scene, gave the reader more insight into the character’s thoughts and feelings, and showed a little more of her romantic interests.
While I love writing the first draft and watching the story unfold before my fingers (I can’t outline to save myself, so I never know where the story’s going next), revising can be just as satisfying. Plus, I know that each round of revision brings my manuscript that much closer to submission. And we all know that unless you submit your work, it will never be published.