Writing Fiction That Sells Part Two – Revision/Editing/Criticism

March 1998
by Connie Shelton, Intrigue Press

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Last month, we talked about developing a dynamic plot and making sure that all elements for successful fiction were in place before starting to write. You’ve finished your first draft-now comes the fun part, the revision and editing. One of the first bits of advice I received about the writing process was: “If you’re in love with your own words, get over it!” Why? Because #1 Everything you write is not perfect, and #2 You can make it better. Intellectually, I could accept that but on a practical level, I hadn’t the faintest clue where to begin. Thanks to some good writing teachers and excellent resource books, the blurry picture became clearer and, with practice, the process even became enjoyable. So now I’m passing along to you a step-by-step plan for approaching the revision process.

Start with a Fresh Eye
The word revision means just that-redefining the vision. So your first draft is done-the vision. Now what? It needs to incubate. This is a crucial step, one that most beginning writers don’t do. You want to finish that book and get it off to a publisher or to the printer if you’re publishing it yourself. Don’t rush it. The passage of time is a critical phase. Set the manuscript aside for a few weeks or even a few months. Now that you can look again at the work with a fresh eye, what do you do next? Many beginning writers rewrite simply for the sake of doing it. But there is more orderly way to approach this. First comes revision, then comes polishing.

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