Revision Hurdles – Part 2 (Decisions)
September 10, 2010
Revising a book means making a ton of decisions. Last week, my list of 50 revision items translated to at least 50 decisions. I agonized over
the first item, a character-motivation problem that an agent I met in July had brought to my attention. Finally, I chose a new motive for the character and revised his scenes accordingly, only to realize the idea didn’t work. So I considered another option, but that didn’t feel right either. Around and around I went. A couple weeks went by, which I filled with busywork such as fixing typos, yet nothing came to mind that satisfied me. My revision was at a standstill.
Then, my daughter, who was down with the flu, read the latest version of my manuscript. (She’s the tenth one to read it!) After she gave me some very helpful feedback, I asked her if I could tell her about a problem I was having. (Yes, I’ve brainstormed with other readers, too, who’ve come to my rescue.) She listened and asked questions, and we hashed over possible solutions. Later that evening, I settled on the character motivation that felt right. Getting her input made all the difference.
I crossed the item off the revision list. Only 49 to go. I figured that if I allowed one day to fix each item and wrote three days per week, the book would be ready in…nine months. Arg. That would not do. What I really wanted was to finish the revision so that I could send out the partial manuscripts—by the end of September. The only way to do that was to speed up the process.
I needed to do something radical. What if I gave myself only an hour per item? Surely, an hour was long enough to make a difference if I gave it my best shot.
The next day, with a digital timer at my side, I tackled the three easiest items on the list and got them done in two hours. As of today, I’m down to 41 items. At this pace, working six hours per day, three days per week, I could be done in two and a half weeks.
But don’t hold your breath.