Today I started an online class 11 Edits You Must Make to Look Like a Pro. I’ve been editing my YA novel for a contest and figured this would be a good addition to my learning.
The biggest help I had came from a published author, who graciously agreed to give me feedback on my writing. She made comments on the first 130 pages and without them I couldn’t have made the edits I did. It takes having someone you trust point out what isn’t working, to figure out how to make it work. Trust me, this is a painful process. No one wants to admit they have a fat ugly baby. But guess what? Most of us beginning writers do.
So I read through her comments and tried to explain away what she saw. That took 2-3 days. Then I went over them again. I trusted this person’s opinion and they spend a lot of time making comments. So I wanted to really weigh each comment. I started to see what she saw.
Once you see what is wrong, you can fix it. So I decided to try making rewrites. I always had the other version to go back to.
3 weeks ago, I started another round of revision on the YA novel. Ouch. But as I worked through it, I saw how right she was. The writing was good for chapter 1-3. Those essential chapters we spend all our time finetuning. The chapters we get feedback on via auctions. Then chapter 4-6 kinda meandered off course. Double ouch. Shit. Why didn’t I see this before? My baby was so ugly.
Then around about half way through chapter 7 I got back on track and the rest of the book went faster. But it still needed work. Dialogue tags when there are multiple participants kill me. It’s my weakpoint. So I worked on those scenes. Sometimes I went to bed dissatisfied. Turning something over in my mind. I’d leap up at 2AM and fix it. I finished all my edits on Friday.
Now I’ve got my online course which may lead to more revisions. It’s a constant learning process. Every version is your best. Or the best you are capable of in that moment. But when you learn–via online classes, reading others work, conferences, writing critique groups, auction feedback, etc.–you grow as a writer and you have to go back and bring your writing up to your new level.
Some people hate revising and would rather write new stories. I hear you. I’ve got a box full of story ideas, dying to be told. But if you don’t take the time to fix your mistakes and work on your craft, at worst you’ll keep making the same mistake, at best you’ll only be able to market your latest work and have a drawer full of stories that weren’t revised and won’t sell.
So my advice (despite the pain and heartache) is to embrace revising. Take your time evaluating feedback, but accept its validity. And try to address their concerns. But always keep your original work.
Because it’s your story and you want it to be the best story it can be, you have to learn to check your ego at the door. Then revising can be a game of constant one-upmanship.
And it’s my b-day today so word count didn’t move from 52K of last week. But Wednesday I’m kicking butt. I promise. 🙂 I entered a new YA contest on Monday too.