Hello everyone! Today’s Ask Us Pub Questions is extra special because we’re also semi-introducing the newest members to the Path2pub team!
Maddie wants to know: My question is about revisions. How do you feel about them, revisions with CPs, agents, editors, and everyone who gives revisions?
Revision is obviously an essential part of the writing process. In fact, revision is my favorite part of the writing process because by the time you’re digging into revisions, that’s when the world of your story and your characters really become solidified and come to life. Revision can be magical, but at the same time revision can be really hard. I get very attached to my writing, sometimes it’s hard to cut that sentence that sounds perfect in my head but might not make sense to the reader.
One thing I learned to do from workshops while I was pursuing my MFA was to always take revision suggestions with a grain of salt. As the author of the story, you are the only one who truly knows the ins and outs of the story. While CP, agent, editor, beta reader input is important and can help you make your story stronger, it’s so important to remember it’s still your story and nobody else’s. You can be given so much feedback that it’s overwhelming to process sometimes. When considering serious revisions, I always take a step back and think over if it will benefit the story I set out to tell. My best piece of advice is to always stay true to the story you want to tell when revising. Don’t be afraid not to take a revision note if you think it won’t work for your story. At the end of the day, nobody else can write your story better than you can.
—Reem, All Things With Heart In YA!
Revisions are necessary, and on every aspect of the publication journey. Before querying, after landing an agent, after getting a book deal—up until the book is on the shelf. Still, as necessary as it is it can also be tough. Hearing people point out flaws in your story isn’t always fun (yes, many times it is fun. Especially with issues you hadn’t spotted yourself but know now will make your story better!). Because sometimes, you don’t see this fault your reviewer is seeing or because it involves removing a scene or character you really like. These are times when you fight epic inner battles: to disregard advice or not?
With beta readers and CPs, it’s easier to make this decision, especially when you choose to disregard. It’s not so easy with agents and editors though, especially if it’s a point they put their foot down on. Yes, they can do that when they sense you’re just being sentimental and stubborn rather than objective. So my view towards revisions is that it is essential and very enlightening but for now, it’s not my favorite part of the process hehe.
—Lucia, The Fantasy And Regency Writer!
Revisions are helpful because they help you figure out what just isn’t clicking or working out. I am a perfectionist, so I try and revise as I go, but sometimes I wait until the draft is done. I step away from a bit and start thinking about what needs to be changed or isn’t working. Is this scene supposed to happen at this location? Are these characters supposed to be saying this?
When I was taking writing classes in college, we had workshops and sometimes the advice given didn’t match up with the vision I was going for. Other times the advice given actually matched my vision and made me go, “Wait a second. They have a good point. I didn’t think of that.” Revising your work doesn’t mean that you have to change every little detail. What it means is that you are making sure you are telling the story you want to tell. That is important to remember.
—Briana, Slice of Life YA!
I believe revisions are always necessary. I have beta readers and even though sometimes their opinions differ from one another it always end up helping my story. How I see it, you know the story inside and out as well as your characters, but at least for me when I write sometimes I literally forget to finish my thought in the page, and with those revisions the beta reader tends to question the fluidity and continuity of the story.
And for the situations where the opinions differ, just remember you are the author and the storyteller, you ultimately decide what stays and goes!
-Alex, Romance Writer!
My mindset towards revisions is that they are an essential part of the writing process, and they have a key role to play. It’s true that as a writer we’d love to get the manuscript right the very first time, but that’s never the case (at least in my experience). Having others critique my work is not easy, but it’s a golden opportunity if I approach it with the right attitude. During revisions I can make my story stronger, clearer and tighter. It’s true that sometimes I don’t like hearing that my CPs consider something in my story is not working, but if I put those feelings aside most of the times they are right in their feedback. Sometimes I’m so attached to my book, that I can no longer notice those aspects that would benefit from additional work. I’m very thankful to have a group of people I can trust that will speak their minds with my best interest at hand, and also that of my story. I agree that ultimately the decision to make changes is the author’s, however, being able to have others share what they see could be improved in our manuscripts is a gift.
The same goes for my experience of working with editors. I appreciate that when they have feedback for me, they point out what needs clarification, elaboration, or development; but they always trust me and have let me decide how I want to approach those suggestions. In the end, the book is the one that benefits the most, and I can tell without a doubt, that the product of my revisions has contributed to make my stories better than I had imagined; while I have been able to grow as a writer at the same time.
-Mariana, PB Writer!
Full disclosure: I Hate revisions! That’s because I’m not the most organised of writers (unlike some friends who do all sorts of magic with Scrivener like having lots of detailed scene cards and beat sheets/outlines) so when I dive into revisions, it can get hard to keep track of what I’ve changed and whether or not I’ve left things out. Also, consistency and coherence can be a real pain in the butt if you’re a writer like me, who likes to keep most things locked in my brain instead of in a document somewhere.
That said, I agree with everyone that revisions are essential and important! So I really value the feedback I get from CPs/betas and my agent/editors. Sometimes when you write a story, you get so sucked into it that there are plenty of loopholes that you miss out, so it’s super helpful to have a fresh pair of eyes look at things and point those out. It’s useful to keep in mind that you don’t have to take in every single piece of feedback though! Reading is extremely subjective, so sometimes I end up receiving conflicting pieces of feedback – that’s when I need to use my own discretion to decide which ones fit best with my own vision of the book. After all, revising is supposed to make your MS stronger!
-Amber, YA/NA SFF!
What is YOUR mindset towards revisions?