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The Joy Of Revision

When I was writing my story my goal was to get to the end. But in revision, my goal is to create the best version of the book.

Finishing my first middle-grade adventure novel was one of the proudest moments of my life. And now, I would really like to get it published. The reality is that the first draft of a novel is almost never good enough for a publishing house to consider.  My first step was to send off my query and first 10 pages to 4 potential agents I’d like to work with.  I wanted to get some feedback to see if my efforts were worth moving forward. Three of the replies to my query were encouraging and one was snippy. None of the four felt that the novel was for them, but they all liked the concept. Two liked my writing style and requested I send them my next novel. All-in-all, as rejection letters go, I was feeling hopeful.

My next step was to have a professional editor review the novel and provide me feedback.  I hired an editor who was also a successful author of middle-grade adventure novels. While I was waiting for her response, I re-read my novel and noted areas that I thought needed reworking. Once the editor’s report arrived, I was ready to start revising the novel. Her report and analysis provided a really good overview and highlighted several areas for improvement.

When I was writing my story my goal was to get to the end. But in revision, my goal is to create the best version of the book. Now I am ready to start the revision process, but really how does a first-time novelist actually do that? I felt my confidence wane and a sense of panic in my body. Not good. It just seems so daunting. I reminded myself of Elizbeth Gilbert’s advice in the Big Magic, which basically says, this story wants to be written and it wants to be written by you. Deal with the fear and get to work. Deciding not to give in to the panic, I meditated instead. During my meditation I made the decision to approach the revision of my novel as a joyous opportunity to create a fantastic adventure novel my middle-grade readers will love.

That attitude change got me moving forward. I turned to two of my favorite author/writing coaches for advice. From author Tomi Adeyemi, blog series, The Best Way to Revise Your Novel, “In my humble opinion, the best way to revise is to go in passes. A pass is when you do a round of revision to improve one specific thing in your story. My first pass focuses on plot. That means when I sit down to edit my second draft, the only thing I focus on is making the plot as tight and exciting as it can be. After that, I do a pass for characters. After that, a pass for world-building. After that, a pass for dialogue!”

From author Holly Lisle’s blog, How To Revise A Novel, set a completion date for the revision.

You need to keep yourself going with deadlines. It’s easy to fall into a nasty cycle of second-guessing yourself, revising your revisions, and never getting to the point of actually sending the manuscript out. So you have to remind yourself that the book you’re writing right now isn’t going to be the best book you will ever write.

My deadline for revising my novel is 6 months. And my plan is to work on one area at a time. I’m starting with a complete rewrite of my opening chapter. I’ve never felt it was the one, it was just the best of the four versions I wrote. But now, with the joy of revision, I get to write version five and make it an opening chapter I love.

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