Saturday, April 30, 2011

Revision Strategies

I emailed off the revisions to Third Grade Reading Queen on Thursday night. The editorial suggestions that had looked daunting and overwhelming were, on further thought, all not only sensible and reasonable but absolutely crucial! I couldn't believe that I hadn't written the book that way in the first place - what was I thinking? I felt a blush of shame warming my cheeks for having submitted it in its previous form. Followed by a surge of gratitude that it is SOOO much better now.

Re revision, it strikes me that there are two approaches: 1) fix the big things first, do the major structural overhaul, and then make all the pesky little changes; 2) make all the pesky little changes first and then face the big things.

I'm a huge fan of the second approach. Now, in favor of the first approach is that, to quote writing guru Dennis Foley, you don't want to be worrying about the pattern of the wallpaper on a wall that is going to be coming down anyway. But in favor of the second approach is that it is so encouraging to be able to take some baby steps first, to change a comma here and a semi-colon there, correct a date or two, see some small progress actually being made. I find that when I start small, the supposedly big things turn out to be not so big, after all. I build to the big things and when I get there, they invariably are easier than I thought.

That's what I did on this round of revisions. I went through the manuscript with Margaret's comments on it three times. First I fixed everything that I could fix almost without thinking at all. Then I fixed everything that required just a little bit of thought and tinkering. And then I did the big-thinking items. But really, they, too, required hardly any thinking. At that point, after working through the entire manuscript on two previous rounds, those changes had begun to seem obvious, inevitable, exactly what had to be.

For me, it's always best to start small. That is why my blog is called "An Hour a Day." All big things are built out of small things. At least for me.

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