Thursday, May 31, 2012

Revision Me This

First revision letter. Second revision letter. Line edits. Copyedits. The whole process from beginning to end (full disclosure: I am not yet at the end, as I am currently waiting on my copyedits) is the best of the times, and the...

Well here's the thing. I am one of those people who just loves revising. So for me it was the best of times and then more of the best of times. Oh sure, there were moments when I felt a little overwhelmed and didn't know where to start... but I would say that my level of anxiety at those times was around the same I feel when staring through the freezer doors at the grocery store trying to decide which flavor of ice cream to buy. Yes, there is a chance I'll make a terrible choice (blech, this lemon meringue pie ice cream tastes like chemicals), but it isn't anything that I won't be able to easily fix (luckily, it was 2 for $5 and I bought some chocolate chip cookie dough as back-up).

If you are one of those people who also love revising, you are probably nodding your head and thinking, "yes exactly!" If you are not one of those people you are probably right now reading these words with the stinkface on full stank mode.

I know this face, because it is the same one that I get when those people who just love writing first drafts are like, "So how was your week? Mine was terrible. So unproductive. I was only able to finish three different first drafts." And my response is, "Oh yeah, wow, that's rough. I actually had a really great week. I got 1000 words down on the page and then thought really hard about what my next 1000 words might be."

For me first drafts are a slog, while revisions are fun and make me feel clever. Well, clever most of the time... except when I received my first round of line edits marking all of my repetitive word choices. Here's an example of an awesome sentence that was on the second page of my manuscript:

"Except the one missing piece - where I'd been during the missing year."

Speaking of missing, how many times had I read that sentenced and never noticed once the duplicate missing's.

Another revisions blooper was when my amazing editor very gently pointed out that I might want to weed out a few of the "just" and "though" word choices sprinkled throughout my manuscript. "Just" clocked in at 374 and "though" popped up 140 times. Oops.

And then there was "then." Also, "and then." And "back." My characters looked back, stepped back, went back in the house, handed something back, and went back to black. I also had things fall down. They couldn't just fall, they had to fall down. Otherwise, someone might be confused and think that maybe something had fallen up.  

We will not get into my problems with punctuation. The forgotten commas. The unnecessary commas. But mostly my endless and ultimately futile struggle to use dashes correctly.

So yeah, that stuff was definitely not the yummiest ice cream choice... but still way better than having to start from scratch and invent a whole new flavor of ice cream.

Kate Karyus Quinn is the author of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, coming in 2013 from HarperTeen. You can find out more about her book on Goodreads, and read more about Kate on her blog.


  1. I loved reading your post, Kate! I've just finished this part of my writing journey, too, including copy-edits. I cannot seem to turn off my EDIT button now. I'm mentally editing everything I see or read...even at church last Sunday! Ack!

  2. I have my stinkface on! Ha, not really. I'm learning to appreciate editing and revisions more, after going through the process so many times. But I'm definitely an "I love rough drafting forever!" and an "OMG revisions are eating my face" writer. Great post!

  3. This is hilarious, Kate! "If you are not one of those people you are probably right now reading these words with the stinkface on full stank mode." Hah.

  4. Kate, I am so with you on this! I started my copyedits at the weekend and am having a full-on editing geek-out over them. I LOVE revising and editing! First drafts, on the other hand… meh.

  5. I'm with you, Emma & Kate--I love revising. I feel like I write my first draft with my eyes squinched shut and then heave a huge sigh of relief when it's done. Yahoo! Now I can start making it GOOD! Best of luck with copyedits. And you know, we all have that moment when we say, "How could I have missed that?" Ain't no crime.

  6. Great post, Kate! I'm with you. I much prefer revising to drafting. I love figuring out how to rearrange the puzzle pieces!

  7. I'm the same way! LOVE revisions, slog through a first draft. Not that revisions are all cake for me, though. My editor pushes me to heights incredibly great-- the jury is still out on whether or not I can reach them. ;)

  8. Excellent post, Kate! I'm just the same. Once I get into revision mode, I love it! It suits my obsessive, destructive and constructive tendencies very well indeed. Definitely need to do a 'then, and then, back, just and though' check on 'Infinite Sky' asap...

  9. Ugh, I am on my third editorial letter! Will I ever, ever, ever get to line edits or copyedits? STINKFACE.