Sean O'Mordha   October 4, 2016   No Comments on Revison

I apologize for starting this eFile with a swear word, but . . .

pic-1Tom Clancy quipped during a conference, “What’s a rewrite? I write them pretty much the way you guys read them and I turn in a fairly clean product.” Clancy feels he is the exception to the rule although I’ve seen a fair share of places his story needed help. At the other end of the spectrum are those who go through many drafts before done; However, after reading a work so many times, it becomes too familiar, making it next to impossible to flush out mistakes and recognize areas that could use some rework. At some point, each reading seems to accomplish less than the one before. A suggestion one of my mentors made helps make the revision time more productive, and that is to list the problems you hope to discover and correct. Your list could look something like this:

1. Find typos and grammatical errors.

2. Check and correct passive entries.

3. Look for repetition, words (and ideas) repeated too often, or too close to each other.

4. Look for places where the tense may have changed.

5. Find places to build in more character traits.

6. Look for places to add or heighten conflict or challenges.

7. Look at descriptions to see if they are sufficient or accurate.

8. Look for the deadwood, the unnecessary bits that don’t move the story forward.

9. Look for inconsistencies.

This list is only a sample. You may have other concerns, but by listing, and then specifically looking for them one at a time, it is possible to become more productive. The best time for all this is while another person is doing an edit for you.

As editing began on a novel, looking for grammatical problems, something didn’t feel right which became apparent while focusing on the protagonist. Reviewing notes on the individual’s Character Sketch, I did not feel the protagonist’s hopes, desires, and especially flaws were adequately supported. The identified flaws needed better highlighting because it was important to understanding why he behaved in certain ways that seem self-destructive. The specific flaw was dyslexia, something I struggle with depending on fatigue. Despite having a personal courtship, I went back to the drawing board to research more deeply into our relationship and found both humorous and dangerous consequences that were added to the story.

What does all this mean? Sometimes ripping whole chunks of story apart and re-crafting them to develop and richer story. That is “re” (to do again) “vision” (to look at and see), and then re-image, what a comprehensive edit should do.

Write it right, something too many writers fail to do in their rush to publish. The consequence of the above edit was that instead of handing the manuscript off to the publisher in May as planned, it was late June. In turn another project became delayed, but such is the life of the serious author who takes control of their artistic endeavors, producing something they are proud to put their name on.

Rod Serling, This writer’s first mentor in 1961

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