Revision Metaphors

Sometimes I look back at what I’ve written in my zero draft. I see heaps of words lining the road. The heaps have shape, but they don’t yet have architectural value. They’re not smoothed and stacked. Sometimes I want to go back and tidy up those heaps, maybe build a little dome or pyramid for them to settle into. I have to wait until I’ve got a full manuscript before that will be a really useful thing to do. I won’t have an idea of the whole shape until I have a whole story.

Sometimes I think of the draft like a woven blanket. Revisions involve going in and tightening the weave, closing in gaps in plot and weaknesses of prose, pulling tighter and tighter until the novel is virtually waterproof. Sometimes I have to pull threads free altogether, and weave thread in different spots, then tighten again. Sometimes the new threads are in entirely new colors or textures. Sometimes, and this is most painful, I have to cut a section free and then mend the blanket around the whole, fixing every thread the excised section previously affected, thread by thread.

It’s all much easier when you’re working with something you already have. Hence the importance of the “crappy” draft. Even if it’s crappy, it still exists. You can’t edit a blank page.

Writing and editing are both difficult for me, but in completely different ways.

Related Posts: Revisions Take Time.

Digesting Critique.

Dissecting Critique, Dissecting Manuscripts.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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2 Responses to Revision Metaphors

  1. jennareynolds says:

    I actually love to revise. It's the drafting part that makes me want to tear my hair out. :)

  2. Victoria Janssen says:

    Of the two, drafting is definitely worse for me. (Good morning!)

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