April #InkRipples: Revision is Hard

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on April 3, 2017 in Books, Creativity, Ink Ripples, WIP, Writing |

Join Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll (that’s me!) for April #InkRipples, which is all about revision.

There is more to writing a novel than simply putting words on a page and calling it a book. It’s a process. A major part of that process is revision. And it’s not my favorite part. I much prefer the excitement of drafting when I’m adding words and feeling the story come together. Once the first draft is done, it’s always such a letdown to think about the story I conceptualized and realize the rudimentary version I have is nothing close to that.

Not all writers feel this way. I’ve known some who go as far as to say they love revising! Sadly that is just not the case for me. Revision often feels overwhelming to the point that I am inclined to avoid it. Of course I want my work to be the best it can be, but I find it’s hard to know how  to specifically make it better and to be objective about my work (one day I can love what I’ve written, and the next hate that very same piece of writing). I actually think I’m much better at having insights into other people’s work and helping them on a path to revision.

Another obstacle is that I’ve found each manuscript ends up having different needs in revision. It’s hard to come up with a foolproof method of revising when the same thing never works on two different stories. But through trial-and-error and becoming more knowledgeable about the process (from writing workshops and reading about what other writers do) I have managed to come up with some techniques to help with the daunting process of revision. Stay tuned next week for when I share some of those tips!

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Katie L. Carroll, Mary Waibel, and Kai Strand. We pick a topic (April is about revision), drop a ripple in the inkwell (i.e. write about it on our blogs), and see where the conversation goes. We’d love to have you join in the conversation on your own blogs or on your social media page. Full details and each month’s topic can be found on my #InkRipples page.

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  • ladragoni says:

    1st I’m crazy in love with drafting. Revision isn’t for me either. I especially don’t like the first couple of revisions that I do on my own. However, when I get good input from critique partners and then later when I’m working with a (hopefully good) editor, it stokes my creative juices and brings the love alive again. Unfortunately, you have to do those first passes on your own or you’d never have the same critique partner twice 😉

    • Kai says:

      Oh my gosh! I didn’t realize I was having a split personality issue. Ugh.

    • Yes! I’m the same way. It’s those revisions that come post drafting that are the hardest for me. Where do I start? How do I begin to make this better? What do I really want this story to be about? How do I bring more out of these characters? How can I make the language more interesting? What am I even doing? 😉

      Once it’s ready to have feedback from others, it’s more manageable for me.

  • Dianna Gunn says:

    Oh boy, this month’s topic is one I could easily write about for the next six months. I’ve always been a rather prolific writer, but editing is a much slower process for me, so now I have a massive backlog of books I have to edit. Luckily I do seem to be getting better at doing revisions in a reasonable amount of time.

    • Yeah, I started small and general with this first post because I was a little overwhelmed with how much could be covered in this topic. Perhaps we’ll have to revisit it in next year’s #InkRipples.

      Good luck with the editing!

  • Dianna Gunn says:

    It is a very broad topic – and there will certainly be more to say next year!

    Thanks for the luck, I’ll need it!

  • jcurtis618 says:

    Hi Katie, yes, revisions are hard and full of angst. The worst part is the self-editing. I have read it so many times, my eyes droop and I think, “This is boring!” How can the writer tell what works? The best thing to do is to put the work away for awhile. Then when I come back to it, it’s fresh and I have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t.

    I don’t actually hate revising. When I think about “revising vs. editing,” the revising has more depth. Editing is simply reading for word usage, punctuation, missing words. Revising might mean major stuff–like adding a scene, bringing in different characters or even reframing the book. All that takes creativity and that’s why I like it better than just plain editing.

  • mirkabreen says:

    In this, too, we are sisters. Katie. I don’t love revising. I know how to tackle certain technical matters, and I have a checklist to guide my first revision. But after that I need a second pair of eyes, and then a third. Invariably my betas point to gaps in the plot, and I realize that some of what was in my head didn’t make it to the page.

    While first draft is terrifying, and I start every writing day with doubts I can do it, it is also exhilarating. The only exhilarating part of revising is when I solve a plot problem in a way I hadn’t imagined, thus re-connecting to the muse of first drafting.

    But revising with an open mind is an essential part of the making of a story.

    • Seems I’m in good company in my dislike of revising.

      I also make lists for myself to guide my revision. I do this while I draft, in preparation for revision, and while I revise. I’ll touch more on this in next week’s post. I agree that keeping an open mind is essential to a successful draft.

  • I totally hear you about loving a first draft–it’s my favorite part too! Revisions aren’t nearly as exciting, and often are so overwhelming, like you said. Someday I’ll maybe find a way to love them though 🙂

    • Nothing matches the excitement of a first draft! Revisions are growing on me the more I do them, if only because I know it will make the story stronger and not necessarily because I enjoy the process.

  • Beverly says:

    Revising is hard for me. Sometimes I’ve read the story so many times, I can’t remember whether I’ve said something already or was it in the earlier version, but not this one. I keep note cards to help me remember. Right now, I’m a little crazy with this manuscript. Will not give up though.

    • That objectivity on a story does tend to diminish with each pass on a story. That’s when critique partners are key…they can give you some perspective when you’ve lost it.

      Good luck with your current manuscript! I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to work through it. 🙂

  • I’m currently working on a revision that involves altering the POV. Yikes! Wish me luck, please.

  • I’m your opposite. I LOVE revision. First drafts are fun, but super frustrating because I want them to be magic, and I know they’re just not.

    • I knew there were some revision-loving writers out there! I’m finding revision is getting a little easier the more I do it. Not sure I’ll ever LOVE it, but it’s grown on me a bit. 🙂

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