Jennifer is revising, revising, and revising some more...
People ask me how I manage to write a book—or several. They want to know how I come up with my ideas, how I can actually get them onto the page, and even how I go about getting them published.
The answer, for all of it really, is revising.
Revising is as important, or even more important, than that actual writing. Anyone can come up with an idea. I have a ton of ideas floating around in my head. But to develop those ideas into something that will actually work—that will have a beginning, a middle and an end, with a likeable hero and heroine, with complete plot and character arcs and into something that ends “happily ever after,” takes a lot of revising. Not all ideas are book material and I have to revise a lot of them before I ever write them down.
Once I have that idea, I write. There are lots of distractions—whether from the outside world or my characters—that get in the way. I try to write consecutively, but occasionally, something with happen that prevents that. Or I stop for the day, intending to continue my thought, forget about it, and continue in a completely different direction. Thus, revising what I’ve written when I’ve gotten to “The End,” is essential.
I’m currently playing around with a technique suggested by Roxanne St. Clair. You write the first one hundred pages, then go back to the beginning and revise. You write the next one hundred and fifty pages, go back to the beginning and revise. You then write until the end of the manuscript and once again go back to the beginning and revise. She is a pantser like me, and says that when she first starts writing, she doesn’t have enough of a handle on her characters and this method helps her. So I decided to try it. I’m at page two hundred and have done my second revision—boy, was it necessary! When I get to the end, I’ll see if it was worth it.
Suggestions from my critique partners, whether it’s while I’m writing or once I’ve finished a draft, also force me to revise. Even once I submit my manuscript to my publisher or agent, I still have to revise. Revisions are the only way to polish and make your manuscript as strong as it can be. There’s no such thing as “one and done” when you’re a writer. Most writers I know could polish their manuscript forever; at some point, we all have to force ourselves to stop. But until that point, revisions are essential.