Even though this blog will continue posting as normal about the usual topics during this time, I just want you to know that no matter who you are, even if I don’t know you, you matter to me. I’m doing everything I can to amplify the voices that need to be heard right now on the appropriate platforms. Stay safe. Keep going. And take care of yourself.
And please consider being part of the solution.
When I finished the first draft of my current work-in-progress last year (yep — these things take YEARS), I was OK with my choice to kill off a main character. But I didn’t know if that choice was the right one.
More specifically, I didn’t know if the death was a conscious decision that sent a clear message … or just a dramatic event that added to the “wow” factor of the story.
And that question circled around in my mind for months. “Is this death serving a greater purpose?”
I was scared that it wasn’t. And so even though I had all the time in the world to start the revision process … I didn’t.
All because I was being forced to deeply analyze my own story. And I wasn’t sure I would like what I might find if I fully leaned in.
But this is the way of the revision.
We don’t always like it. But we can’t avoid it forever.
Revising a story that’s over 50,000 words long is no small feat. There’s a reason so many people never get around to doing it.
Isn’t writing the thing hard enough? And now you have to write most of it … again??
It kind of starts to feel like English class, where your professors made you rewrite the same literary analysis over and over again until you truly understood the meaning of the stories you were picking apart.
This is supposed to be FUN … right?
It is. It absolutely is. Many writers actually enjoy the restructuring of a story they’re working on, most of the time. That doesn’t mean it’s not difficult though. It’s supposed to be. Good books take a lot of time and effort and hard work. When a book has been given great care, it shows in the final product.
Throughout revisions, you struggle, sure. But you also discover, and learn, and grow.
I did, after all, find a meaningful way to frame this tragedy in my story. I don’t think writers particularly enjoy sentencing their characters to unfair demise. We spend so much time getting to know them, and falling in love with them, that saying goodbye is as heartbreaking for us — if not more so — as it is for the eventual reader.
But if the narrative and its message call for tragedy, then I suppose we have to deliver on that.
I wouldn’t have come to this conclusion if I’d just given up after the first draft. Or settled for one full read-through of what I’d written and decided to put it to bed for “the foreseeable future.”
Revisions are hard. They’re possibly the greatest challenge, the toughest barrier for an aspiring writer — perhaps the hurdle, one of a few sizable ones, that separate the dreamers from the achievers. The dreamers, who want to get to that next step but don’t … and the achievers, the ones who dive headfirst into the challenge and take it on.
This is not supposed to be easy. If it were, everyone would be a published author. And that’s just not realistic.
Yes, it’s going to be hard. You’re going to struggle at points. You’re going to ask yourself: “Is this even worth it?”
I can assure you, in the end, it will be. It always is.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.