During work today I decided to do some revising of Sister Evelyn because, hey, it’s work and work is often slow during the weekday mornings. I went through with my fancy sharpie and pretty much jotted down notes in the margins. I looked at my beginning and thought of how I could better write it and also if I needed to start sooner or later. However, my biggest revision for the piece involved wanting to suspend disbelief. You see, Sister Evelyn does something that needs to be able to suspend the reader’s disbelief. I had to build that from the very beginning so her actions were more believable. At the same time, I also had to edit this piece knowing it was only part one–so, basically, I had to treat it as the chapter one of a basic novelette instead of a short story. But since this is an installation piece, I’m going to edit as I go along and write each piece as I go along.
In any case, back to the topic of revisions. Revisions are my favorite part of the writing process. You have your crappy draft, which, assuming you don’t edit as your write, reeks of crappiness galore but still has hidden gems, that potential that gives we writers a reason to revise. Then you take that crappy draft, your favorite pen, and start marking that thing up. If you’re like me, you’ll mark it up, and any majors notes that need to be added, I’ll do in a notebook or on a separate piece of paper. In Sister Evelyn’s case, I needed no extra pieces of paper. Then once all that is done, you’ll get to either re-writing the whole thing, or only re-writing the parts you marked up. I often re-write the whole thing because I don’t merely like to think outside of the box: I like to break that box.
Revisions are where I really fall in love with the story.
Now we all have our own ways of revising. I heartily advise to use an outline simply because it can help you figure out the purpose of each scene, spot potential plot holes, and keep everything in order, including characters and sub-plots and so on and so forth. Revisions need to be a time of really stepping outside of that box you’ve put yourself in when drafting. Don’t merely edit what’s already there. You need to edit what isn’t there. Does your chapter one need to be a chapter two? Does this scene need to start earlier or later? Does this character even have a purpose? Is there a better way to go about telling this story? These are some really crucial questions that need to be asked upon revisions.
I know when I was younger I refused to revise because I would often ask myself, ‘What’s the purpose of drafting if I just have to re-write the whole thing anyway?’ So for a bit I never re-wrote any of my drafts. Then I got to a point where I realized the draft is like a detailed outline. Even if I have to re-write it, I already have a basic structure there. All I’m doing is improving upon it, even if the story ends up being completely different.
When Stars Die’s premise has stayed the same since its inception, but how it got to the ending has changed dramatically over the years. In my current draft, Amelia is enduring some intense trials to be professed as a nun. In previous drafts, she was first a novitiate going about her daily life, then in my last draft, she was actually being professed as a nun. I changed the whole thing because I realized it would be much more exciting for readers to read about Amelia enduring torturous trials and also because it gave her an immediate goal to strive for in the first chapter–to become a nun for her little brother. The first chapter does need to basically answer the question, “What is your MC’s goal?”
So revising is really all about breaking the box. Don’t just seek out what’s there. Seek out what isn’t there.
Oh, also, I want to start vlogging, so give me some vlogging ideas!