My Revision Ritual


I am in the midst of revisions for my agent. Yes indeedy, I am. Right now, I'm knee-deep in adding world-building details, deepening character motivation, and looking up random topics on Wikipedia. Such as:

How did the Nazis view religion? 
Do Unitarians use any symbols? 
How tall are cornstalks in April? 

Apparently, I am writing a book about Nazi Unitarian farmers. It's gonna be a bestseller, I tell you!

This is my second time tackling revision notes for my agent. The first time around was for my middle grade space opera, which needed a lot of work and thus required more extensive notes. This time around, my notes have focused more on world-building and character inconsistencies, but I find myself going through the same revision ritual as before. You know, a little bit of flailing, a little bit of angsting, a little bit of ARGHing, and then...acceptance.

Step One: Freak out a little

This is par for the course, no? Every time I get revision notes from someone---whether it's my husband or my agent or my beta readers---I tend to flail. After all, it can be overwhelming to have your work, your precious baby, critiqued and dissected and pulled apart. And being the delicate flower that I am, I must have a good freak out!

Step Two: Think it out

After my flail session, I need some quality time to let my revision notes sink in. Fortunately, I received my notes when I was in Taiwan so this step was easier to achieve. I'd let my mind drift to editing when I was riding on the subway or slurping noodles or, you know, running away from gigantic Formosan spiders. They were as big as my hand!

Step Three: Talk it out

Now, I call in the reinforcements! This is when writing friends come in handy. You can talk revisions with them! And they shall impart wisdom! For this revision, I emailed my beta readers and chatted about what I wanted to do with my next revision. What sort of world-building details should I add? What did they think about the idea I had for fixing a certain problem? After we spoke, I sat down with my computer and pondered some more.

Step Four: Butt in chair

There comes a point in a writer's life in which she can no longer procrastinate. That time has now arrived. After flailing and thinking and brainstorming, I finally get down to business. That is, I stare at my laptop...and stare some more.

And then, THEN!, I get down to business.

First up, I create a new Sticky note on my Mac where I jot down all of the revisions I need to tackle. (If you have a a Mac and don't use Stickies, why the heck not?!) Then, well, I just start. Typically, I begin with the easiest revisions (changing names, removing a minor character, adding world-building details, etc.) and then I move onto the harder ones (refining character motivations, re-writing whole chapters, etc.). As of now, I'm still working on some of the more minor problems but I'm segueing into the larger issues, which hurts my brain a little but in a good way.

Anyway, there you have it! My revision ritual! If you feel bad for me, please send chocolates and cookies and cute kittens my way. :)

I'm curious too. What are your revisions like? Do you have any rituals? Do tell!