• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Must Be the Clouds in My Eyes

I finished the revision of a chapter today that I’ve been working on for weeks. How do I know? My cuticles are bloody, my skin is blotchy, I’ve been wearing the same clothes for days. I’ve printed it out, read it out loud, forced myself to go back and check facts and rewrite sections that were slacking. I deleted A LOT. I ran it under the scanner and took out all the too cute or clever lines. Except one. Let’s see if it flies with the editor. Some people believe revision is more difficult than writing. Some feel it’s where the magic happens. I feel wiped.

What’s your revision policy?

10 Responses

  1. Pick, pick, pick until the words are gaping wound then try to stitch it back together again.

  2. Words written Monday are read and fixed up a little Tuesday before new words get written. Then hopefully (usually) all goes well enough that the draft gets finished without having to go back again. Editor edits, then I do a final draft using maybe 75% of Editor’s suggestions. Oh, while doing that final draft I speak the whole story aloud, and watch it in my mind. Actually, SPEAK is the wrong word — I PERFORM the story. My American, Irish, English and occasional other accents are terrible, but somehow this part of the process helps me a lot. (Nothing else has been as helpful in teaching me how to write dialogue.)

    I guess you’d call that streamlined process a draft, light polish, and noisy draft. The books turn out good enough to sell pretty well, but I occasionally wish I had a whole year to do a book instead of a month or two.

  3. Revision is my drug, which is why I never make it past 50 pages or send out my short stories.

  4. The first thing I do is what I call maintenance revision. I start at the beginning and begin to do searches on “filter” words where the characters tend to see, to hear, to think, to touch, to wonder, to seem . . . and on and on.

    Once that’s done (and believe me, it makes a big improvement just getting through that crap), I go back again and begin to delete the excess, the overwriting, the what the hell does that even mean, writing. I often scribble right on up to 120K – or over – so when I need to delete something I love, it’s not so hard.

    I actually love the revision part of it all.

  5. “What’s your revision policy?”

    Do whatever it takes to make the piece work.

  6. Early and often

  7. It’s continual. Initially it’s checking for repetition, then flow and moving on to polish. Sometimes words or phrases change and sometimes they just get disappeared.
    (I read that term today, disappeared, about young men in Myanmar taken during the night. their whereabouts unknown. The ruling military are using it as a tactic to quell rebellion; you fight us, we kill those you love). I try to avoid digressions.
    A big fashion for me these days is the lack of a timely one. I’m all out of whack. I was reviewing a story I still haven’t quite finished. When I’ve completed the rough draft of a story, I date it and I was shocked to see this one was already 2 years old.

  8. I love revising. I do it as I go along. I do it when I leave the page. I do it in my sleep. For me, it’s like sculpting. Whether it is an obsession or perhaps even a meditation, I can’t say.

  9. I revise until I don’t want to read it again. Then I put it away, wait a couple months, and read it again. Or I ask someone else to read it and then revise it again and again.

  10. “Revision is all there is.” –Remnick. The thing about revision that gets me, after the upteenth draft, is how much better I understand what the hell I did. I’m one of those for whom schooling and timeframes held too short a workday, week, year. We all have our own timeframes, but especially for novel work, the decade the near decade and the week can divulge the greatest moves through the thorniest revision bushes. btw, your chapter on what editors want has kept my finger far from my send button in the eternal wait for full reads. Especial grace period granted for pandemic era editorial crunch

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