They say war is hell. White shoes worn with black socks is sartorial hell. Red wine drunk with a fish entrée is culinary hell. But there is no hell for the writer like Revision Hell.
I currently reside on the seventh level, the ‘this book sucks’ level where plot points and dialogue I thought were so cool in the first draft now strike me as vapid globs of desperation. Oh lord, deliver me from my woe!
And then I stumbled on a website. The clouds parted, an angelic choir began singing. Author Holly Lisle has come to my rescue and slapped me upside the head. “My first revision is my last revision. If you’d like to cut years off the process of revising, I’ll be happy to show you how.”
The straw has been extended; I lunge for it.
Lisle calls her system the One Pass Manuscript Revision. I read the technique on her must-visit website and a chime went off. Ah ha! I could do this. And all in one cycle, too.
I got right on it.
How’s it working for me, you ask?
In the interest of honesty, I’ve gotta disclose that this is the most brutally painful rewrite I’ve ever done, and I’ve been writing steadily for six years. OPMR requires that you move forward, never backward. Characters who morph into totally different people as the story progresses have to be nailed down—finally—scenes that were fun to write and sound beautiful but don’t move the story forward have to be chucked—immediately—and dithering over plot mechanisms has to end--now. My heart’s pouring blood, my brow’s pouring sweat. And I’m only on page 80. Auggh!!!!!
Lisle’s point is that the writer can write and rewrite forever. Authors finish books. And then they go to the next and finish another. It’s called professionalism.
I’m going to slog forth with OPMR to the bitter end and I’ll let you know how it turned out. Lisle says she can finish the revisions on a 125,000 MS in two weeks. I’d like to do that too, but I’ll settle for two months.
Let’s see if I have any hair left after I’m done.