Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘“Bird by Bird”

Revision — or, How do you find your Story?

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Folks, as I wound up my writing this evening/morning, I had a thought.

Yes, thoughts can be dangerous. But this one probably isn’t. In fact, this particular thought might actually be useful to those working on revising a story, and wondering just how long it’s going to take to fix it. Much less what sort of story you’re going to end up with once you’re done…and whether or not it has anything to do with the story you started with.

The revision process is daunting, you see. It’s also frustrating, nerve-wracking, confusing, sometimes painful, and downright difficult.

Mind, I’m not the only writer to say this. (Far, far from it.) Anne Lamott said this in her book BIRD BY BIRD; she even said that her own first drafts are so awful, she barely can stand looking at them. (My best paraphrase, mind, as I don’t have the book in front of me.)

But these painful first drafts are needed, you see. Only after you get down everything you visualize in your head can you work with the raw materials of your story…and figure out what, exactly, your story is.

Now, some writers work much faster than others, and everyone’s process is a little different. So I can’t give you a timetable as to how long it’s going to take to refine your story from the raw material of your first draft.

All I can do is give you a little encouragement, if you’re dealing with a revision right now. And remind you of three simple things:

  1. Every writer goes through this; you’re not alone.
  2. You do have a story there, no matter how obscured it seems right now.
  3. The end product is worth your time and investment, even though you can’t see that right now.

So, if you’re stuck in the throes of “revision Hell,” as I am right now with regards to CHANGING FACES, try to remember these three things. And ask yourself, “What is the story, and how do I advance it from here?”

That should help you get through the rough spots a little better.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 29, 2016 at 7:56 am