Sunday, June 9, 2013

Revision and Vision

The words feel as if they should go in the opposite order (vision and revision), and not just for rhythm. One instinctively feels that first you have the storyline, which you keep reworking until it’s right. Not exactly. More often, reworking the original plot or theme, approaching it from different angles, choosing the exact words and smoothing the awkward sentences lets you—voila!— exquisitely articulate what you never knew you wanted to say.

Some people eagerly anticipate reworking from a solid base; others dread the anguish of not creating anything brand new. However revision makes you feel, without it, you risk losing the potential nuances and complexity of your vision. Revision lets you  discover what your characters and ideas want to tell you so you can share that.

Tip: Revision that addresses the architecture of your story lets you plumb the meaning of your story.

How do you revise for vision?

·         Watch the words.
It matters whether Penelope snickers, laughs, brays, or giggles. Be precise. Scrupulous wording creates powerful imagery and themes.

·         Ignore the words.
Precision counts. Just not at the expense of deep structure. Tinkering with words can't substitute for developing deep dilemma, genuine character arcs, and happy endings your characters actually earn.

·         Forget about yourself.
            If you put yourself, not to mention your ego, before your words and sentences, you won’t see what
            needs revising. You’ll only see your “self.”

·         Incorporate your “self. “
Your emotions, memories, dreams, and mistakes make great fodder. But to incorporate or dump are separate processes. Infuse the world of your characters with your experience instead of reproducing your experience. Real life needs tweaking to seem credible and dramatic.

·         Use your plot to develop your themes.
Ideally, the bad choices, wrong turns, and learning these generate take your characters on a journey that reveals whatever you want to reveal.

·         Use your plot to discover your themes.
Ideally, living characters subjected to enormous stress will not only surprise themselves. They’ll surprise you, too. That’s the fun and thrill revision can offer.

Readers may not consciously realize it, but they mostly prefer novels that have insight—vision. Revision is the single best strategy for achieving that.

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