Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Truth About Revising

Revising is a difficult subject for writers because a lot of work occurs between the first and final draft. However, writers need to remember one very important thing. They are the ones in charge of their work. Yes. It’s important for writers to take constructive criticism. But writers still need to stay true to their vision. And I would like to share a few revision tips I have learned over the last couple of years.
Worldbuilding is one thing I’ve improved on with my writing. Worldbuilding means rituals, details, and information that’s necessary to a novel. In a fantasy novel, that could mean how magic works. In a contemporary/non-fantasy or science fiction novel, worldbuilding could mean mentioning the school’s mascot if it’s a middle grade or young adult novel or even an annual event that’s important to the novel’s setting. Those are just a couple of examples. However, my point remains clear. Little details don’t have to be distracting. They just make the book’s world more fleshed out.
Characterization is another thing I’ve improved on with my writing. Having well-defined characters is necessary because people are complicated in real life. That doesn’t mean villains have to be redeemed. It just means characters need layers. Writers don’t have to drop a character’s entire backstory in a scene to give the character depth. They could just reveal a small detail. For example, a scene between a main character and his or her friend might entail the friend revealing a problem. The problem doesn’t even have to be large. But it gives insight into the friend and helps also flesh out the main character. Other characters often support the main character and it’s good if the main character can repay the favor somehow. However, it’s still okay to plan backstories for each character. The details might not all make it on the page. But they do inform how authors write a scene. For instance, someone who lost a parent before turning thirteen would have a different outlook on life as opposed to someone who never had a trustworthy adult figure as a kid.
Style is another thing I’ve learned about when revising. Writers need long, short, and medium sentences. Having a variety in terms of sentence length helps the writing be smooth. Too many short sentences would be boring and monotone while too many long sentences might lose readers.
Information is another issue related to revision. Details are essential for fiction. Although dropping too much information on readers can be dangerous. Readers only need as much information that is necessary in the actual scene.

To all my fellow writers: remember to take deep breaths when revising. It can be overwhelming. The trick is knowing you put solid planning into the novel. And I don’t say that lightly. I’m revising a YA Fantasy novel right now. Although this revision is only about modifying emotions/reactions and digging deeper with interiority in terms of the main character’s emotions/reactions. For instance, violence is present in the novel and can’t just be glossed over (the concept of the novel is fascism in a fairytale/fantasy setting). That means the main character needs to express his thoughts to those types of situations so the story will be fleshed out more.

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