Methods of Revising and Weeding

“Well, aren’t you just a busy little bee,” my neighbour exclaimed when she discovered me in the garden.

Personally, I didn’t think I was working very hard as I reached down to tug at a bit of creeping buttercup. This kind of weeding is something I do without much effort. If I’m wandering through the yard with a coffee cup or camera in hand and discover an errant fern peeking through where it doesn’t belong, or chickweed growing in the gravel path, it only takes a second to stoop and pluck it out. That’s so much easier than ignoring the weeds for several weeks and then labouring for hours at a time to remove them all.

I’m really not a busy bee by nature. I suppose if I loved weeding it wouldn’t matter one way or the other but, truth is, after the initial spring cleanup I just want to enjoy the sight of a tidy flowerbed, not live in it.

And maybe if I had the same attitude about manuscript revisions I wouldn’t still be immersed in this rip-it-apart-and-fix-everything-yet-again process. I’d be tweaking, pulling out the odd weak verb and enjoying the accomplishment of another finished novel. As it is, I’m still wandering through a waist-high weed field.

How do you tackle revisions? Is it one major endeavour or a series of unending tweaks and tugs?


16 thoughts on “Methods of Revising and Weeding

  1. Depends on what the story needs. If I know it is rubbish then I really enjoy tearing it apart and starting from the ground up. If I’m mostly happy with it, I do small tweaks and have to keep encouraging myself to get back to it so that it doesn’t stay perpetually in the limbo of close but not done.

    • That perpetual “limbo of close but not done” is what prompts me to keep at the tweaking. I find it hard to move past that stage, decide it’s done and start sending it out into the world.

  2. mE says:

    Give yourself credit dear friend…you’ve got a “novel” to revise 🙂

  3. dave ebright says:

    “How do you tackle revisions? Is it one major endeavour or a series of unending tweaks and tugs?”

    It’s a RECKLESS ENDEAVOR (& the title of my new book). I rip & change & fix & put back. I actually don’t mind it – usually. I’m also not a pro so sometimes ignorance is bliss.

    Weeding? Being away was the perfect excuse to expand horizens. I expanded the scope (horizens) of the lawn contractor that takes care of our yard -(1/2 an acre) now they mantain all of the beds & shrubs along with the trimming – edging – cutting – raking & fertilizing … & it STILL costs less than Deb’s hair salon. Before I die I will figure out why – it’s one of the great mysteries of life. Hope it doesn’t require a pilgrimage – sick of traveling.

    Found my synopsis – I had written it on a different computer. Duh!

    • I’m so glad you found the synopsis, Dave. Ya had me worried! With the constant shifting between two locations I can see how easily that could happen. If you’ve reached the synopsis stage on RE does that mean it will soon be ready for a public appearance? (And don’t put yourself down. With one published novel already out there you *are* a pro!)

      Maybe I ought to adopt your version of gardening for my novel and contract it out… let someone else decide what it needs. Oh, wait… I’m doing that right now. JB’s looking at it. 😉

  4. christicorbett says:

    I too walk around the yard, cup of coffee in hand, and pull out any small weeds I see.

    How nice someone else has the same style!


    • Hi Christi,

      Yes, I like wandering around, checking to see what surprises the gardens have to offer… what new thing is blooming or what the deer have eaten. Yesterday I discovered new growth on a rose bush that I thought had been winter killed.

  5. Laura Best says:

    I find it difficult to rip things apart. I do tend to tweak as I go. Recently I was deep into revisions that basically required me to “cut out the crap” so that I could get right to the story. Hard to get started but not so bad once I got into it. I’ve never made substantial changes to the plot. Once I know what’s happening it rarely changes on any huge big level. It sometimes comes down to the actual telling of the story itself. As we know the same story can be told in many different ways. It’s not always easy to find the best way.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever made changes to a plot either, but I’ve rearranged how I tell a story, especially how and where it starts. Trying to make every sentence have a purpose is a challenge, too. Part of my revision process is forcing myself to scrap favourite bits that really don’t move the story forward. I like your phrase and maybe should stick it onto my monitor: “Cut the crap!” 😉

  6. dave ebright says:

    You wanna read…. say the 1st 50 pages of RECKLESS? YES I’m editing tweaking etc & approaching the finish line. Feels good to be writing again.

    Maybe you could crit my Bad Latitude synopsis, since you already know the story. I shrunk it down from 67,000 jumbled words to 1 & 1/2 pages (double spaced) or about 380 less jumbled words of breathtaking prose. (Yeah right!)

    And DEAD RECKONING is started……

    • Hooray for the start of Dead Reckoning!! Sounds like you’re back in the writing groove. 🙂

      I’ll e-mail about reading and critting… would be delighted to have a peek.

  7. joylene says:

    I love revising. It’s what I live for. Other than all the other wonderful things in life. LOL. If I’m in a slump and can’t get motivated, I read a really really good book and voila, I’m back revising. I guess I’m so impressed with good writing that I’m inspired to improve my own writing. The secret is to know when to stop.

  8. Carol,
    I had to comment on this post. When I start editing and revising I don’t know when to stop. That’s what I’ve been doing the last few months. I’m driving myself (and probably my husband too) crazy. In fact I’ve even dragged a neighbor in to help! I revise and think that’s great—then read it again and think–oh, that can be better—yikes~~ Thanks for this post.

    • Katt, the endlessness will make us more than crazy if we don’t do something about it. It will drag our morale down and kill creativity. My thought, in theory, is that after several revisions it’s time to get someone else’s opinion. It will never be perfect, but there comes a point when it’s ready for an unbiased beta reader, a critique buddy, a professional editor — someone who will be ruthless!

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