So long as you know what you need to say, the words don’t matter (yet)

I’m in the middle of revising. I enjoy revising. And I hate it. Other writers may feel the same – or differently.

*For clarity – revising is what I call the editing done by myself. Editing editing is done in consultation with a real, live editor who hasn’t lived through the development of the book and so can point out all the horrible flaws I didn’t notice.

Once I have a completed draft in my hands, my revising goes from the big stuff down to the tiniest detail, taking as many passes through as necessary. My current wip (The Last Dreamseer) has been through several revisions, with a considerable amount of chopping and changing already done. I’m content that scenes are happening in the right order, so, while I’m not yet studying the existence of every comma (that’ll come later), I’m scrutinising what happens in each of those scenes to make sure it’s pulling its weight as far as the story goes.

My key aim while revising is to figure out what questions I should be asking. I think improving a book rests on asking the right questions – why does the character do that and not something else; what is this dialogue aiming to communicate – the ideas, not the specific words. Once I know what a scene or a conversation is “doing”, then I can figure out whether I’ve got the right words.

So I’m working my way through the wip, peering squinty-eyed at the characters, demanding to know what they think they’re doing all the time. Fortunately, they don’t seem to mind. Maybe they know I’m doing it for their own good – I do keep muttering that it’ll be worth it in the end, and perhaps they can hear!

About katyhaye

Katy Haye writes fast-paced fantasy novels for YA readers and is fascinated by the science of stories.
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