Friday, March 24, 2017

Revision and Television

Revision and Television by Debra H. Goldstein

Lately, I’ve been fast forwarding through a lot of television shows, avoiding the commercials. It makes it possible for me to quickly get to the gist of each program, but also makes me realize how much of normal program running time is taken up by ads. Perhaps the most egregious one was a recent airing of Beaches.

Because I loved the Bette Midler/Barbara Hershey version, I was a little leery about the remake, but having been an Idina Menzel fan since seeing her in Rent and Wicked, I decided to bite the bullet. Joel and I had other plans the night it was telecast, so I taped it. When I finally sat down with my remote control to watch the multi-hour presentation, I discovered that almost a third of it had been commercials. Good for me, but a bummer for those who watched the original broadcast.

For me, first drafts are much like watching a show with its commercials intact. They are bloated and often contain spots I can do without. Revision is comparable to using a remote control. I can fast forward or edit through garbage, but slow down if there is a passage (advertisement) that catches my eye or I’ve hit the spot where the plot actually flows. Sometimes, I fast forward too quickly in terms of my revisions, and must backtrack a bit; other times, it is a stop and start method until I get the wording exactly like I want it. The key is to make my manuscript as tight as a script must be to fit into its limited time. A thirty-minute show must move the acts of its plot within twenty-two minutes. My work must be equally concise or I will lose a reader’s attention.

That’s why I am going to end this blog now. Or, perhaps I should insert a commercial – want to know more about me? Check out my new website at and sign up there to follow my personal blog, It’s Not Always a Mystery, and, if you haven’t already done so, follow The Stiletto Gang, (and like the gang’s facebook pageJ).


  1. Loved the analogy, Debra. What a clever way to think of writing and editing, Marilyn (aka "cj")

  2. I watch a lot of rerun and old movie stations and mute a lot of commercials, but not always. Consequently, I know about a number of drugs I can ask my doctor for if I need them. The companies would probably be happy for me to ask even if I don't need them. As for revision, it's one of my favorite activities. But I've never had to revise an entire novel. I might prefer to watch commercials.