Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blog Chain: If at first you don't succeed...

This round in the blog chain was started by Sarah. She asked:

How do you handle revisions? Do you revise as you're writing, or do you wait until you've gone through beta readers and crit partners to revise? How soon after you finish do you begin your revisions?

This question is so timely! I've always been one to revise chapter by chapter as I write. Last year, I went to several conferences where I heard time and again professional authors telling the crowds before them, "Do not revise while you write. Just keep plugging forward and revise when you finish."

All right, I thought. I'll give it a go. After all, how can so many authors be wrong?

So I sat down and wrote. Lo and behold, a month later I had a finished novel. Sounds good, right?


What I had was a mess. Which, I know is to be expected after only a month. But what I discovered is, I don't revise well with a novel in that bad of shape. In fact, it took me over a year - A YEAR - to get it to the point where I felt comfortable just showing it to my crit buddies.

This was just another case of what works well for one writer may not work for another. I discovered, that I write faster and stay motivated if, after writing a chapter, I go back and revise, send it to my crit buddies, and plug forward. That way I don't get discouraged, forget plot points, loose motivations, and stray from my story arc.

But again, this method might not work for you. How about it? How do you revise?

Check out the always astounding Abby who posted before me and the really rad Rebecca who will post tommorow.


  1. Totally agree with you! Everyone has their own rhythm and style when it comes to revising, just like with writing. You have to find what works for you and not worry about what everyone else says is the "right" way to do it!

  2. I work the same as you. I can do a few chapters at a time, but never more than that before revising. It's good to know I'm not alone!

  3. I'm a chapter by chapter, or chunk by chunk reviser, too. I think my brain would pop if I tried to wait to the end to revise the whole thing. Sometimes, I think, conferences and advice from other writers can be good for helping us to define what doesn't work for us as much defining what does work.

  4. I love the writing fork--and I'm also with you on revising as I go along.

  5. You're completely correct about this. Jamie Ford for example, wrote his book Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet one chapter at a time and revised each chapter after he wrote them. And look how well it turned out for him. So hey, you're on the path to greatness :) Nice post.

  6. heh, it seems to take me a year to revise no matter how I do it....maybe it's just me :D

  7. On this last MS, I got the first draft spit out in a month and now I've spent six months (and counting) on the revisions.

    I think the hard part is staying motivated to do revisions when the thrill of writing has worn off.

    Maybe next time I'll try it your way :)

  8. Hi there!

    Shortstorybook.net is organizing a short story writing contest.

    We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

    “Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check - http://bit.ly/short-story-contest-2010

    Happy writing!

  9. I totally agree. I wrote a MG for NaNo and didn't do any revising as I went. Needless to say, that book is in a drawer. I don't know if it was just bad or if I was simply overwhelmed with how much of a mess it was. I'll never do that again.

    By the way, where can I get a writing fork? ;o)

  10. I am one of those constantly moving forward people, but for this the blog chain group at least the revise as you go method seems to be the most popular. Now I think I'm the one who's missing something.

  11. I agree. Everyone needs to do what works best for them. Obviously, this is working for you.

  12. Yeah, you gotta find your own way of doing things, for sure! I do tend to write my first draft quickly, but my pantster ways won't let me do otherwise, LOL! The revisions after take months, tho. ;)