Editing and Revising
What you haven’t been taught
Revision & Editing: either the bane of your existence or your favorite part of the writing process. It seems that most people either love or hate it. (Seriously, I’ve never met a “middle of the road” writer when it comes to revising/editing). But one thing remains true no matter which side you’re on: it’s crucial to the process.
The ironic thing is that for something so important — the lack of available resources on it is baffling.
Don’t get me wrong, you can Google “Revision and Editing” right now and turn up thousands of articles, websites, and resources. But the truth is… most of them are exactly the same. Most of those resources hinge on basic elements or things we ALL have been told a million times.
“Have a great hook.”
“Watch out for crutch words.”
“Skip the boring bits.”
“Don’t head hop.”
“Throw out filler words.”
“Make sure your plot isn’t weak”
“Does the pacing/flow work?”
But really, none of the above matters if you don’t have the foundation to your story down. Readers won’t care about your hook, your beautiful writing or your pacing if the actual story sucks. So your first round of revisions shouldn’t be focused on ANY of the above. It should be focused on making sure your story is the strongest it can be. But what do I mean by that?
First, it’s important to recognize what a story actually is. My favorite explanation comes from Lisa Cron:
A story is about how the things that happen, effect someone, who’s in pursuit in a deceptively difficult goal, and how they — meaning that person — change internally as a result.
So in other words — story is not about what happens. It’s about how someone reacts/deals with what happens.
Here’s a great example:
We don’t come to a story to read about an apocalypse. We come to a story to read about how the apocalypse has forced Jane Doe to abandon her home and her family, and search out the instigators of said apocalypse and how she has to overcome her fear of violence to take them down.
So in essence… without Jane Doe and her reactions, her struggles, her obstacles — there is NO story. There is just an apocalypse.
I know this is counter-intuitive to what you may have learned. Trust me, it was a hard concept for me to grasp at first because the last two years of my undergrad were spent studying under Creative Writing MFA TAs and professors who harped on “3 Act Structures” and “the Hero’s Journey.” Listen, I think those are great foundational elements to refer to once you have the STORY nailed down. But often, people mistake plot for story which is easy to do with those structured methods.
So knowing what a story IS makes it easier to understand how important it is to focus on that in your revision rather than the surface level aspects (which are still important — just not at the beginning).
So you’re wondering, that’s great, Jade, but how do I do this?
That’s a fantastic question! And one of the biggest issues I find that writers face. Often in the writing world, advice is given without practical implementation or execution to show how it’s done. What good is advice if you don’t know how to use it in reality?
That’s why I’ve become skeptical of writing craft books. But then Author Accelerator founder Jennie Nash decided to do something about this problem.
“After coaching hundreds of writers through revisions, I thought, why can’t I teach this method to people so they can do it themselves?”
I’ll admit — I was skeptical. Even though I’m a fangirl of Jennie’s, I thought to myself, “this is almost too good to be true.”
Then I learned her method and I freaked out a little.
HAVE I FOUND THE ANSWER TO ALL MY REVISING/EDITING WOES?!?!? CAN I CONQUER THE WORLD NOW THAT I KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY EDIT MY NOVEL?
Well, no. And it’s still a difficult process. But I finally found a method that is more than just advice. It’s actionable steps.
Okay, so you’re TL;DR at this point, so I’ll get on with it. I introduce to you:
The 4 Perspectives: How to Edit/Revise Your Novel from Jennie Nash:
Did you watch it? Were you amazed? Because I was. I could have regurgitated the steps for you but I wanted you to hear it from the creator herself. I wanted you to see the examples of how it all works together because it’s a powerful process and as she says in the last two minutes of the video:
“This process has nothing to do with word choice or the little technical details. That’s not going to take your work from good to great. It’s the big stuff… the story… that will make your book shine.”
So next time you’re gearing up for revising/editing your novel — try this method. Try to focus on each perspective and how every layer is working together to improve your novel. I used this method for my last two self-published novels and I have to admit that I was impressed with the improvement over other “methods” that try and teach you how to edit/revise. And maybe it’s a coincidence that my sales numbers are higher for those two books than previous ones or perhaps it’s that I created better stories with better revisions and editing this time around.