Revising My Revisions

May 9, 2015

Photo taken from The New York Times, The Writer's Retreat

Erm... hello. It's been awhile since my last post. Sorry. The short version is I've been chin-deep in revisions (a month ago, I would have said knee-deep, but I've sunk to a more precarious depth). After sending my DREW ms out on submission for a few months, the rejections started trickling in. Five agents requested. Five agents rejected. This caused me to take a harder look at my story, and low and behold (thanks to the awesomeness of my CPs) I found a lot of holes.

So I asked all agents who hadn't read DREW yet to please hold off while I went to work on it.

That was February.

Here I am, three months (and three drafts) later, I'm still working. It's been a wonderfully painful three months. I've learned so much in these past months than I have in my five years of writing.

One of the greatest things I've learned is the awesome power of great critique partners. If you don't have CP's, you must get some. You don't know what you're missing. Finding CP's you trust can feel overwhelming, but meeting awesome writers is fairly easy and super awesome. I met almost all my CPs through following the hashtag of writing contests (especially #PitchWars which is coming up in a few months!). After awhile, you find other writers to cheer on (and commiserate with) and then it's as easy as saying "Hey, would you be interested in swapping stories?"

And that's it. Then it's just a matter of learning which person's feedback you resonate with. DREW wouldn't be where it is without the help of other writers.

Another thing I've learned (and continue to learn) is there's a major difference between writing a story, and writing a really good story.

Anyone can write a story.

But writing a good story is what reveals the pro from the amateur. Studying the craft of writing is both exhilarating and exhausting. The more I learned, the more "problems" I found in my story. At first, it was overwhelming. But then, after clearing all the "clutter" like "telly" narration (He was furious) and filter words like "just"... (omg. I can't tell you how many times I used the word just).

I felt like my manuscript was dressed for winter weather in the summertime. After peeling off all the unnecessary layers (and layers!) I was finally able to see the all the "good stuff" of my story underneath.

And so, as I finish out my last few weeks of revisions (hopefully!) before sending it out to agents, I am so thankful for the process of revisions. For the gems that emerge from the refiners fire. 

I'm thankful for writer friends who rally around to cheer me on. 

I'm thankful for K.M. Weiland and her endless resources on story structure and character arc

But most of all, I'm thankful for the all the chocolate brownie thunder that's gotten me through it all. Here's to you, chocolate brownie thunder. May your chocolaty richness always contain the perfect ratio of brownie chunks. 

How about you? What's your revision process like? Do you have CP's along the way? How many rounds of revisions do you usually run through until the final draft?

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