Friday, May 4, 2012

I Hate the Word....

I hate the word "revision." "Re" anything just sounds like more work! And when you've finished a manuscript, whether it's a poem, essay or a 500-page novel, the thought of "re-doing" it weighs heavily on your soul. I mean, you've done it, haven't you? It's like someone telling you to redo the kitchen floor. Now. The second thing I hate is the "vision" part. When you write, you have a vision of your characters and their thoughts and emotions, the smells and sounds of your setting, and your plot and how it begins and ends. And "re" means that vision could be endangered. In revision you stand to lose what makes your character appealing, or what makes the scene attractive, or the plot exciting. So I'm "revising" the word "revision." Instead, I propose "sharpen." I've just finished reading a friend's manuscript. The plot and action are geat and the story is one that merits telling. But portions of the plot lie hidden under too many words; action is delayed by paragraphs of emotion and internal thought. Cut, cut, cut, sharpen, sharpen, sharpen will be my advice to the writer. But, I'll say, hang on to your wonderful vision for your work. Don't "re" anything.


  1. Good post Linda! As one who has lost my own plot in the process of 'revisions' your advice is right on target. Today I will sharpen my work.

  2. Oh, yes! It is sometimes hard to keep the vision intact! But I usually find I need to add as much as cut when I revise. So sharpen and, what? Fatten?

  3. Another word to describe this process is FOCUS. It's hard to stay glued to the central arc of your story. Too often when rewriting, you lose track of the direct upward movement toward crisis and resolution.

  4. Ooooh, I like this post Linda! Such great thoughts on the lurking dangers (and the exciting possibilities!) of revision.

    Love the word "sharpen"! (Although I like the word revision too, but that's another post. :o) )

    J.A.-- I wonder if the word sharpen works even if you need to add. I mean, isn't what you're adding helping to sharpen the way you convey your initial vision.

    Also, recently I did a true revision on a manuscript. While much of my initial vision for the manuscript remained, it also shifted into something entirely different (and very exciting!). So sometimes a new vision can be a good thing!