The Dysfunctional Love of Revision

Anyone who writes anything knows that they’ll be revising, likely from very first sentence. (To my own amusement, I didn’t revise the first sentence of this post. At all. I’ll show them pesky little word critters and sentence constructors who’s boss. Consequently, this new self-awareness has me question my recent position that I indeed do not have any power struggle issues.) A columnist will add and delete paragraphs. A screenwriter will do the same with whole sequences. Through my novel revisions–an embarrassingly large number of them–I added and deleted chapters.

Revision has become something I love and hate. And then love, hate, and love again. Maybe it’s similar to the traits of a dysfunctional marriage, like that of my parents. Minus the love. I just want to be done with this already! I have other ideas . . . so many other stories to tell. Time to MOVE ON. Well, then I stop myself. Who do I think I am? Don’t be thinking you’ve got this all handled, grasshopper. Are you going to go out there buttoned up or are you trying to–actually TRYING TO–set yourself up for failure? Get your act together . . . make it the best it can be . . . and snap out of it!

I’ve discovered that the best thing about revision is that the fundamentals are down, somehow, and I could focus more on the distinguishing parts of the work. Whether it’s story, structure, outline, or character sketches, it’s through revision that the story’s nuances and power come. Where my excitement grows the most. Exploring new developments and identifying better ways to raise the stakes for the narrative drive is the most moving and rewarding part of writing. Characters have more contrasts, story arc parallels are finely tuned, and the dialogue has more punch. Often in less words–or pages–than when originally conceived.

So, Revision. You must know. I love you.

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2 responses to “The Dysfunctional Love of Revision

  1. Interesting the dilemmas serious writers go through. Much respect. I write like how I put my foot in my mouth … constantly.

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