Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More is Less

Since Sarah started it, I'm happy to continue the discussion about REVISION. (Somehow, it merits all caps.)

I am deep into revisions right now and it seems the more I write, the more I cut. And the characters and story get stronger the more I carve away from them. The funny thing is, whenever I cut entire pages or multiple paragraphs from a chapter, replacing them with one or two sentences, the Slushies always comment about how they like that I've included MORE description or explaination or history in this version of the chapter.

I look back at the earlier version and find that yes, indeed, I have taken three paragraphs and reduced them to one sentence, and lo and behold, my critiquers tell me I've added something.

What that tells me is that I've clarified. I've eliminated what doesn't need to be there and reduced the important stuff to its very essence. It tells me that my writing is getting better.

Good, because I don't know how many more revisions I can do. This is tough stuff.


Sarah said...

Great post, Lisa!

You're right, when I see the revised chapters- especially after a few months- I have no idea about word count might have changed. I absolutely agree about everything becoming clearer, though.

I remember once talking to a reporter who worked for national news. She told me that asked the same questions again and again, phrased a little differently each time. She said that folks might not be able to give a concise answer the first or second time, but after they'd been talking for a while, they would say everything they wanted to say- in just a few sentences. When she got around to putting the piece together, she didn't have to do as much editing because the folks being interviewed had already been given a chance to distill their answer.

Sarah said...

I suppose I should have, you know, tied that reporter comment to something.

My brain is so dead right now! (And yes, I have been writing!)

It was interesting to me that the more you work at writing (or speaking) something, the easier it is to identify the important parts, bring them to the front, and let everything else fall away.

Tess said...

I know your revision pain.

just when I think 'done!' -- wrong. more revisions requested. but, to be truthful, each one is making the novel stronger and seems to be worth the effort.

Amy Tate said...

I'm weird but I love the revision stage. It's like cleaning house. The most difficult part for me is writing chapter one. I've rewritten that first chapter more than the rest of the book. I agree with Richard Peck, it's easier to write the whole book and then go back and re-write chapter one.

Jennifer Major said...

Those are inspirational comments. How liberating to chop several paragraphs, add one sentence and know it is better! You've inspired me to go back and do another edit of my manuscript!