The Road MORE Traveled

In 1 on January 11, 2010 at 11:45 pm

On some level I’m always thinking about revision because a) I’m a writer, and at some point after the joyous font of writing pleasure, I know I’m in for it. b) I’m an editor and daily I offer suggestions to others on how to revise their work.

I’ve also had the good fortune to interview a lot of successful authors, from TC Boyle to Sara Gruen to Tess Gerritsen–a wide gamut. And not a single one has ever said, “I just churned out greatness and it went on to be published.”  (Okay Boyle may have said that somewhere 🙂

Sara Gruen, if I recall, printed each of her pages some dozens of times until she could only find 1 single thing she’d like to change, and then she’d move on.

I struggle to tell my clients, many of whom desperately want to be published, that a published novel often goes through DOZENS of drafts. It can be mind-boggling, aggravating and heartbreaking–but if you don’t learn to take some joy from the revision process, that road to publication is going to get even longer.

So in honor of embracing what I call “the road more traveled”–I’ll be featuring interviews with published authors about their revision process.

Before that, I’ll have a guest post by the talented Eros-Alegra Clarke.

Keep coming back!

And feel free to share your revision process.


  1. I’m using a note card method I learned from author Lisa Gardner at a conference in November. You make a note card for every scene and then once you have all your cards, you start playing around with them. I have a lot of holes to fill, so this method seems very freeing in that you aren’t messing with the MS at first, just the structure. Once your cards are in order, you make the changes to the MS. I’m in the middle of making my note cards now, but so far, I feel great about this approach.

  2. Hi Dawn. I’ve heard that can work great for some people! I use a spreadsheet-like matrix to keep track of my scenes, and I name them rather than number them…the cards are hard for me because I can’t see all the scenes in one fell swoop, but I have bad organizational talent…Glad to hear it’s working for you!

  3. I was listening to a podcast this morning about the benefits of anger if used properly and they were talking about a study where angry people (they had been pushed into angered states) & neutral people were asked to revise articles given to them. The angry people revised the articles (not their own) to a higher degree than the neutral people – because they were less “forgiving” at the time.
    So I’m thinking I’ll write something, put it aside, whip myself into a frothing rage, then go and edit what I’ve written.

    • Tash, I teach a class called Method Writing where you channel your feelings into your writing. You’re talking about a very similar thing!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: