I’ve been writing my newest novel–an adult thriller set in the world of real estate in downtown Chicago–for about a year now. I finished the first draft six months ago, and then added to it and revised it several times, including paying for a professional edit. I knew my novel still needed a few tweaks, but I patted myself on the back thinking it was basically finished. After setting the manuscript aside for a few months, I blew away the cobwebs about a month ago, and asked a trusted and knowledgeable writer friend critique it. I so badly wanted him to tell me that it was perfect, that I should go ahead and send it out to agents, that it would be a best-seller. However, this is real life and that’s not what happened.
At first, some of his comments about my writing made me defensive. This book had become like a baby to me. No one likes to be told their baby is ugly. I spent a few days thinking about his suggestions, however, and realized many of his criticisms were correct. My main character did need more of a motivation for his actions, I did use too many similes, I did explain too much, etc. The realization my novel was not only incomplete, but that I might have to rewrite the entire thing, made me want to find the nearest tall building and jump off. The task before me seemed insurmountable. I had completely wasted a year of my life. What was I thinking? I crawled into bed, vowing to never write another word again.
Thankfully, I have a husband who is experienced in talking me off of ledges. He reminded me that he loved my book and that the two other people who had read it also enjoyed it. Yes. Maybe it needed some tweaking, but if I focused on one thing at a time, I could get it done. That’s when I remembered something I’d read a few years ago about “revision tracks”. Following different tracks of revision translates to reading through a work-in-progress several times, only focusing on and revising one thing each time. Changing just one thing isn’t so difficult, right?
I’ve already begun my first revision track–reading through my novel for unnecessary similes and removing them. Next, I’ll tackle creating a deeper back story for my main character which will make his later actions seem more believable. Then, I’ll move on to something else. You get the picture. The point is, now my revisions seem doable, and I’m actually excited about them! It’s simple and straight-forward–breaking an insurmountable task into smaller pieces is the best way to make it less daunting.
Have you struggled with revisions? What strategies worked for you?