Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Perfection Doesn't Exist

by Connie S. Hall

"I assume that the first fifty ways I try it are going to be wrong." – James Dickey

I agree with the above quote. Writers should expect to change the stories they write. A first draft usually needs rewriting. Revision means to see again. As a writer, you need to look at your story through a fresh and critical perspective. Rethink, reconsider, review, refine, reorganize, and revive your story. Remember that revision is not proofreading (commas and spelling), or editing (looking for better words, and repetition). Revising is something completely different.

Some instructors suggest that you wait awhile after you’ve finished a draft before you revise it. Others tell you to wait to rewrite until you've finished a scene, a section, or a chapter.

As writers, we often produce lots of stuff that needs to be tossed. You shouldn’t fall in love with what you have written. If you want to be a polished writer, then you can't afford not to throw stuff away.

Save your drafts. You never know if something you took out of your story might work later on, and you certainly don’t want to lose the hours you spent struggling with a certain scene. If not in this story, maybe it’ll work sometime in the future for another piece.

Here are a few suggestions to think about when you begin to revise: Do you give lots of detail early on and then let it fizzle out by the end? Are your facts accurate? Is the tone and language appropriate for your audience? Do you spend too much time on trivial people and neglect the main character? Are your transitions smooth, or do you need to move some things around? Remember, if you don’t have a smooth ending, your story dies a slow death.

Revising is easier from a hard copy, and you should read it aloud. You won’t catch every thing on your first draft. When you have finished revising it, you are done. Leave it. Too much revising can take the life right out of the story. Remember perfection doesn't exist.

1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

I struggle with fizzling out by the end with my details, Connie, so I know whereof you speak. When I see the end in sight, I tend to run for it, my coat tails flapping! I'm working on that.