Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net
Holly Lisle's Vision

The Right to Revise

By Carol Stephenson

© 2002, Carol Stephenson

For those who write a lean, mean selling manuscript on their first write, my deepest admiration and congratulations.

For those who receive an editor's revision letter after submission, or at an appointment hear an editor say, "it sounds interesting but….," or post sale have an editor who needs one more change after another, my heartfelt condolences.  

I had to work my way through two editor revision letters for NORA'S PRIDE.  As I normally write in layers-first sweep for action and dialogue, second brush with action, reaction and more dialogue, and third and fourth strokes for texturing-version number three meant that I was on at least the twelfth run though.

Many a time during the last rewrite, I was so sick and tired of the book to the extent I almost pitched the sucker into a permanent circular file.  So I came up with more lifelines or handholds to avoid self-destruction during revisions

1. It's your choice to revise.  If your artistic vision cries 'foul' over changing any portion of your manuscript, it's your right to say 'thanks, but no thanks'.  

2. If you chose to revise, it's your duty to not lose sight of your unique voice.  Sometimes you can write yourself right out of what makes your work special.

3. Words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes or chapters etched in stone can be erased: by acid, chisel, blowtorch or highlight and delete.  

4. Copious mourning for lost material, of course, is permissible.  Even better, create a folder of those wonderful lines and ideas for another book.  Best yet, keep a jar of M&M's by your elbow for periods of ruthless pruning.

5. Keep index cards, notebooks or whatever means is your outline system to drop breadcrumbs as you go along.  It's all too easy to lose threads, themes, plot or character development in a forest of revisions.

6. Seek out your critique partners or good writing friends to weep on their shoulders, wallow in their commiseration and then receive a good kick-in-the-butt to do your job.

7. Yes, job.  While writing is art, the performance of it for pay is a job.  If unpublished, you want to be published.  If published, you want the next book sale.  That means you have to perform, you have to produce the marketable manuscript.  You have to meet the job performance criteria like any other professional has to fulfill in their occupation.

In this tough, competitive publishing market, you may be afforded the opportunity to revise: whether to create a second chance for your precious manuscript or to polish it to best-selling brilliance.  Rather than viewing revision as an unbearable hardship, I suggest viewing it as your right to revise.  It's your right to make your book the best it can be.  

Got the revision mindset?  Fantastic.  Go exercise your right and {{hugs}} for any creative wound you may suffer along the way to glory.