Revision

Some writers revise as they go, so in touch with their inner editors that they choose each word with a deliberate grace.

I am not one of those writers. I’m often not afraid to just throw in an approximate word to get me through the first draft. There is room to revise later and I’m very fond of whoever said “You can’t edit a blank page.” Someone could easily have the next bestseller in her head but without ever putting it down on paper the public will never know. So I race through the rough draft sometimes, if the characters and plot come easily, and then see what I have at the end.

Then comes time for revision. There have been a couple stories where what I have at the end isn’t what I thought I was going to write about in the beginning. Somehow the story took me with it and the characters made their own decisions – just like they’re supposed to. The next thing you know I get to struggle with whether to remake them into my original vision or let their own ideas shape my final manuscript.

“Burning Bright” was one of those manuscripts. I had the two of them with a different mission, to find another version of remnants of life in the story. They made their own rules and informed me later, which worked out well enough for me but not so well for Isra. When I read it after I finished the draft, I realized how much they needed to have the plot go the way they took me rather than how I planned to take them.

Still means I have a lot of things to revise. Earlier plot points that would have led to my original ending had to be rerouted. The character development sometimes needs to get a little deeper. Every now and then entire characters have to be ousted from the story. They’re generally bit parts that just clutter the story I’m telling, and I can’t see that until I’m finished.

The good news is once the process is finished, the sparkling story is ready to go somewhere and be read. In the process right now with another novel, and now I’m wondering if the title doesn’t fit the story. Still, just another piece to revise and make the best I can manage.

What are your rituals through revision? Do you follow the set vision in your head as you go, or do you let the drafts fly and fix them later?

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