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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Revision—The Way of the Force

by Lorelle Marinello

Lorelle writes with warmth and humor and her first novel, Waltzing With Alligators will be released in 2008 from Avon Trade. You can read an excerpt here (click excerpt on bottom of the page).

This was originally posted April 17, 2006.


Lately my life has been a series of revisions, which I've begun to accept as part of a noble process, a sort of rite of passage. Perhaps it’s because I’m in a transition stage--husband retiring, children going off to college, moving--all the fun stuff at once.

In my effort to find balance amidst the chaos, I’ve come to the conclusion that periods of reflection and reevaluation are natural, even in stable times. I'm here to say that we should embrace these moments and give them our full attention and honest effort instead of rushing through them with the next hurdle in mind. Only when we‘ve had a chance to reflect and revise, we can move forward with the sense that we are on solid ground again.

It’s the Little Blue Engine sort of thinking we need to adopt. You know, I think I can, I think I can . . . We don’t drill this sort of thinking into our children’s brains without reason. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the good advice seems to be drowned out by phrases like, “Hurry up, slow-poke”, “The early bird catches the worm, and “Are we there yet?” Pretty soon we forget to reflect and revise because we are in such a hurry to keep up with the rocket scientists of the world.

Since I’m a writer, my thoughts on revision began there, then spread to the other corners of my life. Like gardeners expect weeds in the spring, we writers expect revisions, but naturally don’t welcome them. If you have a creative soul, you probably take the greatest part of your writing pleasure from the birth of a new story. The word REVISE may make you run for the cleaning supplies, any place but the computer. But I want to encourage you to add reflection, and yes, REVISION to your process.

First, what you’ll need is some distance from your story so you can gain objectivity. Then you’ll need to really love the characters as well as the dirt they walk on and want the story to succeed in the worst way. I’m encouraging you to be passionate about your revisions, passionate enough to murder your darlings!

Stephen King reminds us in his book, On Writing, that our job in the second draft (If you’re not Stephen, feel free to change the word “second” to “subsequent,” as in “many,” drafts down the road) is to make our work even more clear, which, of course, makes it more accessible to readers. And since our goal as writers is to communicate our thoughts, how can we let this part of the process slide when Stephen assures us that if we give it an honest effort, make the necessary changes, we will reap a more unified story? And, I might add, a story we have confidence in and feel passionate about.

So my new mantra is, embrace the process. Reflect and revise. It’s the Way of the Force—the path to knowledge and a fair shot at your dream—whatever it might be.


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At 5:43 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

This comes at the perfect time. I've just finished my SECOND set of revisions for my Mills & Boon Historical #7, which will be released October 2008, no title yet.
They were much easier than I thought and now I can enjoy Thanksgiving without thinking about Regency England!

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Dianna Love Snell said...

Just getting back into town and wanted to say hello.

Great way to approach revisions. And what a good point to make about how we are encouraged as children but seem to berate ourselves as adults. I really don't mind revising because the hard part is done. I like to tinker with something once it's done, but I've always been that way about my paintings so it's nothing new.

Hope you had a great holiday.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Great post, Lorelle. I needed to be reminded to be passionate about the revision process. The advice comes at a perfect time.

Good luck with all the changes going on in your life. It's a challenging time to have your kids go off and your husband retire all at once. My husband and I have one child out of four left at home and we have become passionate about enjoying this new phase...:)


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