Revisions are tough. Then again, if you're reading this, you probably know that already. And you most likely have more experience with the demon than I do. So, let me ask: are they supposed to give me a bloody headache?
Throughout draft one, I learned a lot about writing. I learned about the characters, voice, style, and the story I'm trying to share. My writing improved as I progressed, and I know that's how it should work.
But, that doesn't make it easier to deal with the emotions flooding my brain when I return to weak sections: Paul, what is your freakin' point? Paul, who the heck cares? Paul, these fifteen pages can be condensed to a paragraph - it doesn't move the story forward. Paul, this is boring. Paul, you said that already. Paul, stop telling and start showing, sir! Paul, start entertaining! Paul, I can't read another page....
My favorite brain buster is when I spend hours on a paragraph, get it sounding better than its original state, and realize the next paragraph needs to be rewritten. The rewritten paragraph becomes a first draft, sandwiched between two revised drafts, and they can't be served on the same plate. That rewritten paragraph is a generic condiment smothered on a gourmet entree. It drives me crazy. It ruins my entire flow.
I've been in a bad mood for
Okay, maybe tenth.
So, today I took a break. I went to the pool and browsed the second half of Stephen King's On Writing for probably the fourth time. While reading, I jotted the tips I felt were directed at me (you know, cause I'm tight with Stephen King...). When I got home, I locked myself in my office (formerly known as Borders) and the teacher in me created a cheat sheet. Even though you have all read the book more than I have, I'm sharing the tips that pinched a nerve today:
1. Do not dress up your vocabulary. Use the word you mean to use; chances are, it's the best word to convey your point.
2. Too many details write an instruction manual. Include those necessary to transport an image to the reader; leave the rest to the imagination.
3. Adverbs are not your friend.
4. Dialogue tags clutter a novel. Stick with said as much as possible.
5. Avoid passive verbs; put the subject in charge of the sentence.
6. Separate thoughts (rather than one lengthy narration) help the reader comprehend.
7. Know the beat of your paragraph; keep the rhythm aligned.
8. When it comes to names, it's always s's (i.e. Thomas's) and never s' (i.e. Thomas').
For those who have read, what key point did you take from King's memoir? Do you have a favorite revision tip to share? What other books helped you improve your manuscript?