Revisions: Clearer on 1, or clearer on 2?

In the last month I’ve ripped apart my first chapter several times and although it’s better, recent consensus (and looming deadlines) indicate I need to drop it and move on for now.

Am I still feeling positive about revisions? Yes, which is still a first for me! I’m moving through my changes much faster and trying new things without having as much anxiety about it, so although my first chapter needs a break, it doesn’t worry me the way it used to. For some reason I used to operate under this fear that if I changed something I couldn’t go back to it (um, computers make that super easy!) or I was somehow betraying my original intent by altering it. I’d get stuck on these thoughts and end up making the most minor substitutions (a word here, a semi colon there) and then growl about how revising was pointless, look, it’s not any better, I’m gonna write something Shiny and New that will obviously be Perfect on the first try.

Complete nonsense of course! I’m starting to get addicted to making the changes my book needs to make it better. It’s like spring cleaning – you throw everything open to the fresh air and get rid of the clutter and bring in something fresh and alive. Voila! The chapter is better!

That’s how I’ve felt most of the time. On the flip side, revising feels like going to an eye exam. You sit with pages and notes in front of you with different ideas for improvement and ask yourself “Is this clearer on 1? Or clearer on 2?” a few times, with no right answer. (Because seriously, the difference between those always seems so small to me!) Or THIS happens–you’ve been going through options one and two for a few pages, making some choices, everything is moving along and then BAM!

“Or what about 3?”

What the hell, I thought we were working between these two options, you can’t change the game now!

“Or 4? Here they are again, 3 or 4?”

NO-well, wait, maybe Option Four…dammit, I said there were only two options, do you know how this screws with everything down the line if there are FOUR options??? But Option Four does solve Character Arc Problem 2…ughhhh, fine, Option Four. Let’s revisit the previous ten pages with all four options in mind…

Too many options can give me anxiety. I outline, I make a plan, this plan is supposed to avoid Surprise Options this far into the process. That moment of “What about 3?” always used to make me tear my hair out. I wanted to make progress, I didn’t want to start over yet again–but now I’m finding that instead of freaking me out with Too Many Choices these moments get me excited! Because if that’s what you need, find it out now and put it in and then move on with something great!

This book has been in the works for years…partly because it’s been so hard to let go of things and make changes, so now that I’m finally ready to do that, I’m excited to see how it turns out. So back to the cave for another month!

And a special thanks goes to Erin for always responding with enthusiasm when I text her “Heyyyyyy…wanna read my first chapter again?” ❤

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. erinkbay
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 21:06:01

    AAAAAAHHHHHHH AMANDA!!!!! You NAILED this post!!!! OMG that eye exam analogy is THE BEST!!!!!! It’s the perfect way to convey the angst we have when we’re trying to make our story better!!! UGH!!!! YOU ARE SO BRILLIANT!!!! I’m so glad that your revisions are going well and you’re feeling positive about the whole process!!!!!!! YOUR STORY IS GOING TO BE SO WONDERFUL AND AMAZING WHEN YOU’RE DONE WITH THESE REVISIONS!!!!! And of course, I am ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS excited to read anything you write!!!!!!!! *heartface* *heartface* *heartface*!!!!!!!!! LOVE YOU MANDA PANDA!!!!!

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  2. Akshaya R.
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 22:47:28

    Awww Amanda!! I love this post! This is super true and it’s really, really hard to let go of those things especially when it feels like you keep working on the same stuff. I’m glad you’re feeling good about them though. And as scary as it is, keep moving forward! It’s so easy to get caught up in the beginning during revisions but there is like the whole rest of the book to go and so much changes down the line. Remember you don’t have to fix EVERYTHING the first or even the second round. That’s something I’ve had to remind myself every day for the past like month– it’s okay if my description/world isn’t great because this round I’m only working on plot– and that’s been helping immensely with revision anxiety. And I am SUPER happy to talk and read any versions of your opening you want!!! Good luck!! ❤

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    • Amanda
      Apr 17, 2016 @ 23:23:42

      Thanks Akshaya! I’m hoping to move faster now that I’m not obsessing over the *perfect* opener. You and Janella really helped me through that roadblock. I’ll definitely let you know when I need eyes on the next chapters! 🙂

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  3. janellaa
    Apr 18, 2016 @ 20:59:56

    OMG AMANDA!! I’m so so glad to hear that your revising momentum is unstoppable!!!! I’m so with you on the making changes part—initially, I was super resistant to making truckloads of major MS changes due to the work I’d already put into it . . . but once you start seeing/accepting all the possibilities, changing what needs to be changed feels SO much more freeing and exciting! Also, your analogy with the eye appointment is SO spot on!! If all the options start blurring, you know we’re all always here for you as soundboards if you need it!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Amanda
      Apr 18, 2016 @ 23:50:47

      Awww thanks Janella!! I’m so glad we’re all in the revision boat together!! I’ve been drowning in fuzzy CP-love feels all day since Akshaya’s post, I’m glad we all found each other. It’s the best! ❤

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  4. Trackback: Draft 4 DONE – Erin Bay

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