Monday, February 3, 2014

The Act of Revision

When you think of what an author does all day, most people think about the creative part. Weaving a story from an idea, or three, into a full fledged book, filled with characters, conflict, and, emotion.

That happens, but not in the first draft.

I've got revisions on the brain. I just finished my final, first draft for a bull rider's book. I had a beta reader who acted like a first editor, read through and help clean up the draft. Then, as I went through my own drafting process, I also incorporated her comments.

Then it went to my publisher. Now that I've sold the project, the book will be back on my desk in a few weeks for copy edits.

By the time the story is done, the book will have gone through five sets of 'edits' including my original changes from my first draft.

Why am I telling you this? This weekend, I gave a talk to a local writer's group. At break, one of the members came to be to ask about a scene in his story where the woman overcomes massive childhood issues with a love scene. The author talked about the symbolism of the act and explained what it all meant.  When I mentioned that he might need to show her healing in other ways then use the scene as a cumulation of the growth in the character's arc, he shook his head. The book, he said, was already done.

I disagree. A book is never done until it's published and in the readers hands. Even if you're shopping what you believe to be a finished product to agents and editors, you may need to tweak and adjust the story to score that contract. And even then, your story may change during the publisher's editing process.

I used to believe that once I wrote 'The End', the book was done.

Now, I realize that is a fairy tale.  It takes a village to write a book. From beta readers, critique partners, to agents, copy, developmental and line editors, many hands touch your baby as it goes through the process.  At the end, you'll have a better product.  Or at least that's the goal.

I'm heading back to the editing cave.


  1. I remember hearing that Rex Stout always wrote just one draft and turned it in. I believed that until I wrote for a living. Now I know that story had to be as much fiction as his Nero Wolfe stories were. {smile}

  2. Ritter, I think there are authors out there who do one draft. I also believe in unicorns. I'm just not one of those authors.

    Thanks for stopping in.