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Defining Revision

“What’s the difference between editing and re-writing?”

The thrill I felt at some one asking that question is sure proof I’m a writer-and that I’m weird.

Maybe it was partly because of my post last week . I was definitely interested in hearing the answers from the other members in the writing group.

I confess that it wasn’t so much an issue of me looking for an answer as much as anxious for the discussing to begin. I think the more opinionated I am about a topic, the more I love getting into it, especially when it’s one that I’ve mentally marked as “no wrong way”.

Revision just happens to be something that I’ve done a lot. It’s also something that I’ve gone through many phases with.

So, for anyone who’s curious about how I quantify degrees of revision, I thought I’d share how I replied.  Some in the group found it helpful so maybe others here will, too.

Please keep in mind, this is solely the world according to Ren Black.

: To me this is cleaning up the awkward sentences, type-ohs, grammar issues, passive voice and real localized stuff. Wording issues and technical craft. Although sometimes tedious (especially since I am no grammar guru), I find this a painless level where the answers are obvious and easy and alter wording, but not really the story perse. It’s like cleaning the bugs off the windshield or dirt off the car so that you can actually focus on the story.

Revision: I deem this as where I deal with scene stuff or “fixing problems” on a bigger level. This is the level where I may need to re-write paragraphs or weave through more character personality, slash and burn fluff, fleshing out stuff that used to be “telling”, adding in body language and other stuff. To me this has less to do with the technical craft, but more of the organic elements of flow, characters etc. To me, this level takes a different level than “Editing”  – more choices, more thought, more planning and creativity. However, I see it as still fundamentally addressing “problems”. If this were a car to be fixed up I would see this as where you fix dents, touch up the paint, and replace the broken gas gauge that always says the tank is empty.

Re-envisioning: This is where I try to look at the scene, story or character totally new and see stronger potentials. This is where I take “functional” or “transitional” chapters that may not have anything particularly “wrong” with them, but I try to re-envision them with more energy, tension, drama. It’s where I tackle book changing/ game changing  alterations to make the tension deeper, more “worst case” scenarios and speculate what would happen if … This usually comes in levels/degrees and involves heavy “re-writing” of large sections or adding new scenes altogether. I add new sub-plots or sometimes alter the main plotline.

Re-drafting: This is what I call basically junking the old draft (most or usually all) and starting over. I’ve done this twice with my current book and can attest to the drastic differences. I do not simply re-write the old book. The first time I re-drafted Hall I followed the basic plotline, but in the second re-draft I totally deconstructed the plot and re-envisioned/re-designed that, too.

So, how do you define Revision?

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

One comment on “Defining Revision

  1. I agree that editing is mainly the technical stuff. Then there is two steps to revising. Revising is adding the whole she-bang to it, you know? Fixing scenes, grooming the characters, just like how you said. The second step is emphasizing on hidden themes and making sure it has the authors voice. Then rewriting and redrafting I think are the same thing. (。-_-。)

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