Michael Crichton has said: “Books are not written–they’re rewritten.”
No writer ever gets it right the first time. The initial process is about giving those clichés, dreaded adverbs, pat phrases and excessive dialogue tags a chance to come out and play. Revision mean you must dive deep into the depths of the dark side and tackle those sentences that just don’t go with the flow, so to speak. Most of our time is spent doing revisions and to some writers this part of the writing process is excruciating, mostly because they can’t see what needs fixing, or they see it but have no notion how to fix it. There is always that fear we’ll make things worse. I am convinced that anyone can write a story. This doesn’t necessarily imply talent, only the ability to type, and a little determination, and time— lots of time. You might be good at it and you might not, but skill is not a prerequisite. A draft is nothing more than a barely cooked chicken. Anyone up for pink chicken? I’m not. So we throw our chicken back in the oven or the grill, whatever your preference, and continue to cook it until it’s near perfect.
The trick to good revision is to be able to look at our work without prejudice and to revise effectively. Don’t be afraid to get rid of a sentence, paragraph, or even the chunk of dialogue that slows the pace of your story. I know that some of us are hesitant to do that, but it’s essential if you want to give your novel a chance. The best way to develop an objective eye is to read. Read lots, read everything, and learn to be critical in order to learn the rhythms, and flow of narrative in good fiction. Join a critique group, this is by far the most important thing you will ever do as writer. I know the process of having someone read your work and tear it apart is frightening and can have quite the affect on your ego. But I promise you, the effects is temporary. Receiving critiques can sharpen your objective vision like few things will. Look for a critique group that is honest, constructive, and supportive.
No matter what stage you’re in or how far into your novel you are, the rewriting never ends. I write a chapter and reread and revise it several times before I send it off to my critique group. It’s never perfect. When the feedback comes back, I consider everyone’s opinions and the few changes I feel need should be made. Every writer has a process or routine if you will, some write chapter to chapter and revise. Others write maybe half their novel and revise and other doesn’t touch a thing until they write the words “The End”. The point is do whatever works for you, but know that most of your time will be spent rewriting.
When do you do rewrites? Are you one those writers that absolutely loath it?