By Julie Daines
I've been thinking a lot about the revision process lately as I've been revising two separate manuscripts--one for publication and one for submission.
I both love and hate revising because while the process makes my manuscript infinitely better, it also makes me painfully aware of my shortcomings as a writer.
When revising, it's easy to focus only on the surface problems because they are easier to fix--awkward wording, things that don't make sense, poor characterization and dialogue. But often that is merely treating the symptoms and not the disease.
It's so important to consider the deeper issues when revising in order to successfully improve the story. Elements such as structure, theme, premise, and characters are crucial. The irony is that these things aren't often apparent in the first draft and it takes a preliminary write through before even we, the author, can see where all ends meet.
So before you start polishing the windows to an empty view, first make sure you understand what it is in your story that compels you to tell it. Make sure you can see the all-important beginning, middle, and end. Understand exactly what motivates your characters in all their choices. Make sure it is clear to you the deeper meaning within your text.
Set these in order first, or the rest of the revision will not be meaningful or helpful. This is where a good writers group in invaluable. I'm so glad I've got a group that forces me to look deeper into my writing and clean from the inside out.