If someone had told me (and they probably had) that there was something harder than keeping my butt in the chair to write that first draft, I would have laughed them off. The first part was easy. The ending? Piece of cake. But that middle. Damn it straight to hell. Making all the dots connect was a bitch.
Then I came face to face with revisions.
I’m no gramatician, but I can slog my way through all the fixes. But answering the beta reader’s “I don’t get it” questions, proved to be a bit tough. I know what I meant, so why didn’t they. This is the magic of our craft. We are transporting a specific image/event/emotion in our brain and transposing it into someone else’s using only words on a page.
That means finding all the disconnects and wiring them together. That comes off as vague because it is vague. There’s no one answer to fixing any one problem. The trick is to not fall into the frame of thought where you think your stuff is gold and the problem is with the readers. If no one is willing to read, why are you writing?
But if you thought that was the worst part of it, let me tell you. There’s more. The next thing to work through is the reimagining. Sure you have this pretty work that moves from A to Z just perfectly. And sure it works. But what if…
What if something happened differently towards that one crucial moment at the beginning of your story? Now that could be interesting. Maybe even more dramatic than what you originally had. Wouldn’t that mean rewriting a good portion of the manuscript?
Would it make it a better story?
You won’t know unless you do the work and write it.
Either way you look at it, it’s scary. If the rewrite sucks, you just wasted precious time you could have been writing or editing something else. If the rewrite rocks, then all those words you slaved over previously get scrapped.
So don’t look at it like that. Think of it this way. If the new stuff is better, then your story is better. Wanted a better book? There you go. If the new stuff isn’t good, then you know that your original still stands solid. Well, until you might get another idea worth chasing.
There’s nothing wrong with reimagining your story. Most stories go through a metamorphosis between draft one and hardback. It’s the natural writing life cycle.
For me, reimagining the story is the hardest part of revisions. There’s a leap of faith that’s involved that I don’t always trust. How about you? What do you find hard about revisions?