The importance of revising your writing
A love of writing
One of the reasons I am a writer is that I really enjoy the process of writing. I love the creative process that occurs when an idea pops into my head. It does not matter if it is a poem, a short story, a novel, a blog post, a non-fiction article or even an email to a family member, the same joy of creating is there. This joyful feeling is what keeps me going. It has enabled me to write almost three and a half million words in the last twenty-four years. It has kept me pressing on while spending over twenty thousand hours at my computer keyboard.
The unexpected creative process
One of the exciting things I find about writing, especially when writing fiction, is that I discover unexpected outcomes via the creative process. I might have a general idea of where the story is heading, I may even have a clear plan of the plot, when suddenly a character does or says something unexpected, out of character or just plain startling. The plot can take some bizarre and unplanned twists when this happens. I even find that my thoughts can be railroaded into a side-track when writing blog posts or other forms of non-fiction. It’s all very exciting.
As fascinating as this is, such a sudden turn of events, or change of direction, or unplanned content to one’s writing can have a serious repercussion. The writer can get seriously off-track. A short story about a woman’s struggle with depression (yes, I have had one such story published) could take off in the direction of telling all the woes of her childhood. This is back-story; it is probably not necessary in a 2000 word story. In a 100,000 word novel – perhaps.
The importance of revision
I have discovered over many years of writing that revision is crucial to the whole process of the art, as is rewriting, editing and proofreading. I should write articles on all of these aspects of writing – and I probably have over the years. (You can find them by using those terms in the “search” box at the top of the page.)
In this article, want to focus just on “revision”.
What is Revision?
The process of revision can include the following:
- Reading back over the piece of writing, checking for errors of fact, especially in non-fiction. It can also be crucial in fiction, too; you can’t have a character using a mobile phone if the story is set in the 1960s – unless it is a time travel story, but then, the phone wouldn’t work.
- Correcting the wrong use of words, or constant repetition of words and phrases.
- Recasting sentences which demonstrate poor grammar.
- Checking for spelling mistakes and typos (though this is usually regarded as editing or proofreading, two other important processes of writing).
- Deleting a sentence, a paragraph or even as much as a whole chapter which is unnecessary to the whole work. In one novel I wrote, I had to delete large chunks because it read like a travelogue and didn’t advance the plot.
- Rearranging the order of sentences, paragraphs or chapters to create a more logical flow.
How other writers revise their work
I have included only a few ways in which one can revise your writing. There are many different ways of doing this important process. Each writer is different, and individual writers can vary their own approach, depending on what they are writing.
I recently came across an article 12 Contemporary writers on how they revise. Each writer has a different approach to the same process. At the end of each writer’s segment, there is a link to further articles on that writer, including blog posts, podcasts, interviews and more. I hope that you find it useful.
- What is the hardest part about writing?
- Revising my novel
- Quiet, please – I’m using a chisel on my novel
- Writing a novel – a collection of articles about how I went about writing a novel
A new fantasy imprint launch
Melbourne-based publisher Morning Star Publishing will launch its new fantasy imprint this coming Friday 16th December 2016. The new imprint, to be known as Stone Table Books, will focus on publishing new and exciting books in the fantasy genre. Devoted readers of the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis will understand the symbolism encapsulated by this imprint’s name.
At the launch, the imprint’s first two titles will also be launched. Both titles have been written by the eminently suitable Mark Worthing who is an author, and pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in North Adelaide, South Australia. Fantasy has long been a passion of his. He has taught the writing of fantasy literature at tertiary level as the former head of the faculty of Humanities and Creative Writing at Tabor Adelaide.
The first title (with cover art shown above) is Narnia, Middle-Earth and the Kingdom of God: a History of Fantasy Literature and the Christian Tradition. This title explores the fascinating, and arguably, symbiotic relationship between Christian faith in all its manifestations, and fantasy literature. I will be posting a more thorough review of this book in the next few days.
The second title to be launched is also by Mark Worthing. It is Phantastes: George MacDonald’s Classic Fantasy Novel as retold by Mark Worthing. This modern retelling of an iconic work of the mid-1800s makes this significant novel far more accessible to today’s readers. Once again, I will give a thorough review of this title in the next few days. The cover artwork is shown below.
The launch of the new imprint, as well as the two titles mentioned above, will take place this coming Friday 16th December 2016, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 139 Archer Street, North Adelaide, South Australia at 6:30pm for a 7:00pm start.
The editor of Stone Table Books and the CEO of Morning Star Publishing will be present to talk with prospective authors.
Tabor Adelaide Creative Writing programme and Stories of Life Competition will also have information stands on the night.
Come and celebrate the launch of these two books, as well as the launch of Stone Table Books. Drinks and nibbles provided.
Please note that there will only be cash sales on the night. The books may also be ordered via the publisher’s website (see below).
More short story starters
Over the years, I have posted many of these articles. They have become some of the most popular posts on this site.
These story starters are designed to get your creative juices flowing. We all have those dreaded times when we just can’t think of an idea to write about. These story starters are designed to get you going. You may end up not using the exact wording I have given. You may even change any names I have used. The setting I have proposed could also change. It is really up to you. Accept my ideas if they suit you; change what doesn’t ring true for you.
These short story starters could be used exactly as I have suggested. They could be the start of a story which you finish, polish up, rewrite, edit, proofread and send off to a journal or magazine or even a writing competition. Or, you may just use some or all of these ideas just as writing exercises – warm-up writing attempts to flex your writing muscles before your work-in-progress gets attention for the day. It is entirely up to you how you use these ideas. Or not.
Short story starters:
- Frank found what he was looking for, but not where he had expected. He felt totally perplexed. How did it get in the washing machine?
- It was moments like these that Greta enjoyed. The sudden appearance of her best friend in the cafe opened up the day to untold opportunities.
- How on earth could Harry complete this task in the time allotted? He knew that his fate was in his own hands. What he did in the next hour would determine the course of his life, one way or the other.
- ‘What are we to do now?’ asked Ingrid. ‘That was the last chance we had.’
- Finding her husband lying on their bed in his pajamas was the last thing Jenny expected that day.
- Karen raced to the check-in desk and stopped. Hardly able to breathe she waved her boarding pass and waited to be served. ‘What if I’m too late?’ She suppressed the thought and smiled.
- Tony and Lauren knew from the first day that it was going to be a struggle. Despite the challenges ahead, they stepped out believing that they were up to the task set before them.
- At the beginning of the week, Murray had believed that he was on top of the workload for the month. What he hadn’t foreseen was the accident.
- Naomi blinked. She couldn’t believe what she had just witnessed.
- The children ran screaming towards the open door. They crowded around the visitor, jumping and reaching towards the box he carried.
Conditions of use:
- Feel free to use any of the story starters listed above.
- Change anything to suit your needs.
- Give it your best shot.
- Edit your work carefully before sending it off to a publisher or posting it on your blog.
- Let me know in the comments section how it went.
- If you publish your story on your website or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.
- Now start writing.