On second thought
Posted June 26, 2010on:
I was going to do a third post in the Writing by the Numbers series, but I decided not to. “Why?” you ask.
Well, for those of you who don’t know, I actually have a number of blogs, which is weird since I didn’t even want to have one, at the beginning. That first blog, by the way, seems to have become something of an archive for all my blog posts elsewhere. My publisher has a SciFi/fantasy/occult/psychic power/weird stuff blog, and a short story blog, that I occasionally post to as well.
So anyway, yesterday, when I posted the second article in the Writing by the Numbers series, I decided while I was there to check out some of the other blogs I like to follow, especially Writer Unboxed, which is a really good place to get lots of helpful advice on story-crafting issues. Our topics overlapped, as one might expect. The craft of writing is not that extensive. The art of writing about the craft of writing is much more far-flung, every author born having their own take on the issue.
So yesterday, I posted about pantsing, and pantsing about pantsing. Today I found an article at WU on much the same topic, but the author’s focus was actually about revisions and editing. So here I am. I just got finished doing extensive revisions on two novels, and I expect to get more, since I just contracted for four new short stories. The thing is, that even though I am a pantser (squared), I generally don’t do much substantial revisions once my first draft is done. Thanks to the marvelous technology of word processing, I can actually go back and do my revising as I go. Yes there are blogs that advise against it, but what the hell. I can’t write new text without reviewing old text, and if my old text doesn’t give me good ideas for new text I have to change it.
‘Substantial’, however, does not include that variety of revision I call the Great WAS Hunt, or its relatives, the WERE, HAD, and THAT Hunts. Believe me, those are more than enough. Changing the verb changes the sentence, and everything around it has to be changed. Sometimes this is all to the good, and leads to a more substantial revision, as I mentioned in this post, but mostly I spend a lot of time trying to keep the meaning the same while changing the words. In this sense it’s more a matter of editing than revision, but it sure feels like revision.