I’m not going to lie. I hate revision. I’m not a strong believer in it. And of my own accord, I would do very little of it. In general, I feel as thought it’s easier to just get things right the first time, you know? That having been said, it’s unbelievable how much better Enter Title Here has gotten as a result of the process of revision.
The first draft of the novel took me about 77 hours to compose, over the course of 29 days (mostly in January of 2013). And that was about 95,000 words long, and it was pretty good. I mean, I was in love with it.
The first cycle of major revision for the novel was mostly at the behest of my agent. And that took about 96 hours spread over 32 days that were scattered roughly through August-December of 2013. During that cycle of revision, I mostly cut down the manuscript significantly, from 95k to 63k words. Other than that, not much changed. I tinkered with the love plot a little bit. That, though, felt like an AMAZING amount of revision.
However, since selling the book, I’ve now down another 91 hours of work on it (starting in December of 2014) across what is, so far, 36 days. In that time, the novel has ballooned back up to (at the moment) 78k words and has changed in pretty amazing ways: characters have disappeared, subplots have been minimized, subplots have been added, the main character’s motivations have changed significantly. And, more importantly, the entire tone of the novel has become more complex. It’s softened, somehow, and become less strident and less sure of itself.
It’s a tremendous change. I hadn’t even believed that something like this was possible, short of a complete rewrite, and I think that the novel is much better as a result of it.
And I’m not even done! I’m halfway through the second round of edits, and then I’ll still have line edits (going through sentence by sentence, word by word, to make sure everything is as efficient as it can be).
When I finished the first draft of this novel, I was like, “This novel is DONE.” And since then, I think I’ve changed roughly every other word in it. That’s amazing to me, and it’s certainly not something I could’ve done on my own. All my life, I’ve assumed that book editors didn’t really do much editing, but that was absolutely false. They make an amazing difference. It seems odd to me that there can be a person whose job it is to buy books and make them better. Like, what qualifies them for that? How does anyone know that they’re giving good comments and are doing a good job of editing? But, in my case, they’re earning their salaries, since the comments I’ve gotten have all been excellent.