GIVE UP THE GHOST by Megan Crewe
Introduced first in 2007, debut children’s authors have formed a cooperative effort to market their books. Last year, I featured many of the Class of 2k8 on Revision Notes, as they told the stories of how 2k8 Novels Were Revised.
Today, I’m glad to continue the 2k9 Series of novel revision stories.
Class of 2k9
The Joy of Revision
Believe it or not, revision is actually my favorite part of writing. I rarely enjoy first drafts. The whole time I’m working on them I’m looking forward to that point in the future when the whole story will be down on the page and I can start fixing everything that’s wrong with it.
Maybe it’s because I don’t feel totally comfortable with a story until I’ve written the whole thing out at least once. Maybe it’s because it can be such a thrill to find a way of handling a plot point or character development that’s ten times better than what’s already there. Whatever the case, I’m always happiest during the second and third drafts.
I don’t just revise, I rewrite. Open up the previous draft on one side of my computer screen for reference and a blank document on the other, and start the new draft from scratch. When I tell people this they often respond as if I’ve announced that I prefer Brussels sprouts to chocolate. But it’s actually not that much work. All the parts I want to keep the same, I just retype from the previous draft. And for all the parts that need revising, I find it much easier to make sure the changes fit the flow of the story when I’m writing the whole thing out rather than dipping in and shifting bits here and there.
Eight revisions. But even a revision-lover like me can get tired of tweaking a story after the seventh or eighth run-through. And when you reach the publishing stage, you can expect a lot of revising! GIVE UP THE GHOST went through three revisions (two rewrites and one line edit) before I submitted to agents, another revision for my agent before submitting to editors, a pre-offer revision, and then three revisions after the book sold. That’s eight revisions!
So how did I keep the love through all that time?
- Choices strengthened story. I made sure that the things I changed strengthened the story. It’s a lot easier to feel enthusiastic about revising when you can see for yourself the voice getting clearer, the characters more relatable, the plot more intriguing.
- Choose battles wisely. If my editor wanted a change that I wouldn’t necessarily have made on my own, but I didn’t have any reason *not* to make it, I trusted her judgment. It was only the few cases where I felt something would actually hurt the story that I mulled it over and discussed possible compromises. That helped keep stress levels down–for me, and probably for her, too!
- Let go. I allowed myself to let go. If I’d read a certain scene ten times already, and not found anything that needed changing the last three times, and my editor didn’t think it needed any more tweaking, then I’d move on to the next scene that did still need work. There’s a point when you have to accept that while nothing’s perfect, you’ve done the best you can, and that’s enough.
For more, see Megan Crewe’s website at www.megancrewe.com