Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Revision Fatigue

Durham Market Square
In spite of the rain clouds and the dull, windy sky, I'm feeling pleased with life. That's because I have finished - hurrah! - what is probably the fifth edit of  my first Matho story.  I haven't been counting the edits, but this one feels like I'm really getting the hang of revising a story.
I was pretty chuffed with the first draft, but that was probably four years ago. I made the big mistake and sent partial submissions out, and of course got rejections. About six months later, I had another look at the story, wondering why it didn't have agents queuing up at my door. That's when I saw all the niggling little repetitions and awkwardnesses, even the occasional plot problem.

A year on, and I went through it again, and found still more to change. Does this process never end, I wondered? Will I be doing this ten years from now? Then I read a piece about revising and though I can't remember who said it, I jotted down the four things that really count: Conflict, Suspense, Drama and Emotional Intensity. One or the other of these should appear on every page.

The full meaning of the phrase Revision Fatigue hit me. The story was as good as I could make it and I didn't want to go through the damned thing again....but I knew I needed to do it. Nobody warns you about this process. Some authors blog about doing their umpteenth edit, but like every other newish writer, I must have glossed over it. I certainly didn't properly take it in.

But you know what? This time around, I gave myself permission to be ruthless. I chopped boring bits (yes, there were some) re-drafted sentences so they were less clunky, upped the intensity every which way I could think of and even subjected poor old Matho to be a bit of torture along the way. Punctuation and missed words (yes, there were still some of those, too) chapter endings and beginnings - all were given the old critical eye. I re-wrote two chapters from a different POV because I thought it gave the whole more intensity. The last chapter was finally finished off properly. I think I'd got so tired at the end of writing 110,000 words that it had always got short shrift. Now it is done, and I can can go off and have a jolly day out. Yeah!


Jean Bull said...

Congratulations, Jen, and Good Luck!

Jen Black said...

Thanks Jean! I'm happy to sayt he good feeling is lasting....long may it continue!

Ursula said...

Congratulations of finishing it, Jen. Can't wait to read about Matho's torture. I bet that was hard to write.

Jen Black said...

It was hard trying to decide what kind of torture! Didn't want him scarred for life, and hehad to remain fit and active.

Dean Crawford said...

You're starting to sound less like an aspiring writer and more like a professional author Jen, keep it up!

Jen Black said...

That's good to hear, Dean!