Monday, September 27, 2010

Melissa's Myths for Mondays

Myth #6

Revision Is A Necessary Evil Because Your Word Processor Doesn’t Always Find All Your Mistakes.

I’m really hanging my head over this one. I remember with great chagrin thinking that the revision process was a matter of looking for any misplaced commas or misspelled words that my word processor didn’t catch.

What else was there? I was a true neophyte. I watched an interview that Diane Sawyer did with JK Rowling right before the 7th Harry Potter was due to hit the shelves. In it, Diane visited Joanne in her London hotel room while she wrote the last lines of The Deathly Hallows. Cameras peered over her shoulder as she typed the final words. Then she printed it out, bundled it up, and off to the printer it went. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Surely she didn’t have to revise anything, right?

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about the revision process and all the work that goes into it. It took me less than three months to write my last novel, and six months to revise it. True, I’m not the fastest reviser in the world. I have trouble looking for multiple things. If I’m focus on POV, I’m lible to miss repitition. If I’m looking for show vs tell, I’m likely to miss characterizations. I know that most people can concentrate on multiple issues at once, but not me. Oh well.

What is your revision process like? How many times do you usually revise a manuscript before you consider it “finished”.


  1. I don't know- I haven't finished it. I've spent three years writing and revising my novel.

    I normally write it- take anywhere between two month to six months away from the project. read it again, running it through spell check, do a light edit. Then I give it to beta's to read. Then fix things my beta's were confused by or I look at their suggestions.

    Then I take another few months away from it. Then I eliminate empty and meaningless words and scenes that aren't in there for three reasons.

    IT's a long process for me. But don't forgot Pro writers have pro editors and have a lot of free time to think about what they want to say before they say it.

  2. There are layers of revision. I'm a monotasker, if I'm looking for continuity, I miss typos. Editing for voice? Miss plot holes.

    What's to be avoided is over-editing. Gilding the lilly with over polish. Sometimes the first draft raw voice should survive the editing.

  3. I'm not the best writer in that I'm not the most dedicated writer. I'll go months without writing a thing and then have a week or two out of nowhere where I can do nothing else BUT write.

    Anyway - my major problem is that I'm an editor. So, I'm revising while I'm writing, which makes the process long and hard for me. But I can't quit doing it. I've written 2.5 chapters so far (and I started in December...) and I've spent most of my time going back and reading and fixing and reading and fixing the first two chapters. Maybe this is why I've never been able to finish a manuscript?

  4. Ugh, revisions. The first round is fine, but once you're doing your tenth, it's mind-numbing. JKR probably has people to do this stuff for her :P Or maybe she was writing the last word in her last revision.

    I'm guessing that you'll need to do this less the more you write. You learn so much from writing, revising, and such that it has to get better further down the line.

    I've put my YA on hold for a bit (need to rewrite the beginning, which is discouraging, but necessary), and I just finished my very first MG novel. It's short, and I need to flesh it out a little, but I'm actually looking forwards to the revisions. I want to see how much I've developed as a writer.

  5. I can't remember how many rounds of revisions I have done. I am still going, a year and a half after 'completing' my novel.

  6. I tend to edit and revise as I write, but that still doesn't shorten the revision process on the completed manuscript. The first revision is usually for flow: Is there continuity? Does dialogue sound natural? Does this section fit here in Chapter 3 or does it read better over here in Chapter 6? Are there repetitions or redundancies? Should this be left out? Anything that needs to be added?

    The next revision is for spelling and grammar. I don't rely on my Spellcheck for this process. I usually have to drag out my dictionary and actually look words up, not only for spelling but for context, as well.

    I also like to let a friend or two read through the draft and listen to their input. Sometimes I'm just too close to the subject to catch everything.

    Then I start the whole process over again!

    When all is said and done, the revision process for me takes about 6-10 read-throughs, with at least that many re-writes. My last book took about six months to write and a year to revise.

  7. I used to think that as well, I was so naive. Now I know it takes twice as long to edit as it does to write.

  8. I've never considered a WIP "finished," so I couldn't tell you. But I'm focusing all my attention on making the current WIP marketable, so I'll let you know one day!

  9. Oh, wow. The first book (which I have finally decided is "done") has had at least eight revisions. The second book (which is also "done") only had to have two. The third book, which is currently being revised for the 3rd time, isn't anywhere near done.

    I. Hate. Editing. ;-) I agree with Patti, it takes twice as long to edit as it does to write.


  10. These are all great comments. I noticed that I didn't revise my blog post very well.

    I am finding that with my new WIP, I'm not making as many of the Kindergarten mistakes I made on Zombie Rabbit, but I'll still have to do a lot of revision. I'm like you PV, I have to look at one thing at a time. And totally agree with Patti and Justine, it takes at least twice as long for me.

    I still wonder about JKR's process. I suspect that she does quite a lot of her own revision work, but that's too hard to explain to a TV audience. If only I'd known that then.

    Anyway, I quite enjoy the revision process, it's a chance to take a raw peice of clay and mold it into something beautiful.

  11. There is no set number of times I go through a ms ebfore I can call it finished. It's just when it feels finished, when I'm happy with it as a whole. And then I wait and read through it again ;)

  12. I am THE slowest reviser on the planet. I'm slogging through Revision Hell right now...and have been for the last 6 months! It's a necessary evil, but emphasis on the evil. ;)

    I'm new here. *waves* Nice to meet you. :)


  13. wow good for you. I'll keep my tally too and see what I come up with!

  14. Hello and welcome to Lola and Christina