The good thing about having been writing a story for a long time, or about writing a series, is that the longer you write it, the more you see what works and what doesn’t. In addition, you are able to see more ways to compact the story, where before you couldn’t see ways to shorten up the length. Likewise, you can see places to elaborate more where your explanations or transitions were sparse.
The first time I did a revision, it was more of an edit; I checked for typos, grammatical mistakes, etc. By the time I set out for a second revision, however, I had finally some clue of what a true “story revision” was. “Revising” is not one of those things they teach you in your English class–the one-time (or even thrice-timed) proofread before you pronounce your work “finished”–and it’s more than just polishing things up. It’s about seeing your story as an overall picture, and figuring out what could spruce it up.
The first time I did a real “revision” on my Beauty and the Beast story, I don’t think people really realized what I was endeavoring to do–and neither did I. There seemed to be a lot of people who thought my story was great as it was. But after I took those months to sweep back through my story and fix what I considered to be inconsistencies with where the story needed to go, two things happened:
1) My original audience still liked certain parts of the original, but they said that my story had actually gotten better.
2) I gained new readers who either could not tolerate my story before, or simply had not been interested in reading it.
I also got a lot better at writing interest-piquing summaries–which I have still been practicing.
I’m sure the sheer amount of revising I do irritates some people, because it means they have to re-read old content in order to move on to the new. But the truth of the matter is that that’s why I’m here: revisions. I take the risk of posting my story online so that I can receive constructive feedback to help me make my story better. There was a time when I was younger–perhaps 10 years ago–when I wrote simply to write, and I really didn’t care for other’s critiques, because I didn’t care what anyone else thought of my stories; they were written for myself, almost like journal entries, and I was extremely suspicious of others wanting to read them.
But I am at a point in my life now where I recognize how invaluable constructive criticism really is. So many people can say things to tear a story or a person down. So many people can say “good job,” and leave you wondering what was actually good about it. But a person who is honest, and elaborates on what they like and don’t like, and offers you insight on how to change what they’re questioning, is not just writing a comment; they are handing you a tool.
But my reviewers are not the only ones critiquing my story; I am critiquing it as well. As time goes on, I see where more of the holes are, see things that are not set in stone that might be changed for the better.
What I am seeing now, is that some of my in-story explanations are running in circles. I intentionally put then in circles at the time, because I believe real people move in circles in their lives that they don’t recognize as circles, and don’t know how to break out of. But I am entertaining the thought that it may be possible to reflect Rome’s circular, self-deprecating mentality without running the reader in literary circles.
I also see that more efficient lines may be made from the beginning of the story to Rome’s troubles with the nobles–namely, Rome’s eye color. If I followed that theme, instead of wandering around looking for relational and friendship rabbit trails, the relationship may just follow the plotline’s lead and take care of itself. There is also, of course, the possibility of taking out the childhood chapters altogether. While they provide a peek into Labriella’s temple life, my continuation of writing is bringing me to an alternate method of divulging this information and perspective. Thus I could dedicate the first volume to the nobles–“Ignoble“–and dedicate the second volume to the temple and Power distribution–“Irreverent.” It would be a lot neater organizing, and would keep its focus.
I’m honestly debating whether to post such a version, however. It might indeed draw more readers. But I feel that if I make these changes, I will come a lot closer to attempting to publish, and there have been advisions against posting a truly finished work online. So then, the question at this point for me is less about whether to make the changes to my story, and more about whether the feedback I will receive is worth sharing the revision online.
But don’t worry; I won’t stop writing the story from where I’ve left off. After all, it’s difficult to revise things when you haven’t written then yet. ;)