Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Revising Fiction

You've all heard the old addage - writing is rewriting.

No one believes that more than me.  I probably over-revise.  I spend years on short stories.  'News Right Fresh From Heaven,' my story that appeared in Fantasy Magazine earlier this year, began almost four years before, as two different stories (one was good, one was bad).  I have a couple other stories right now that I have been working on in some way, shape or form for just as long. 

It's funny now to be editing my story collection, which will appear very early next year, and to revisit these stories.  My intent with the editing was mainly cosmetic.  I ended up making some minor edits, mostly aimed at excessive commas and exclamation points (!!!), but also a few bigger changes to sentences and paragraphs.  I changed nothing structurally in the stories.  I don't want to re-write these, though the impulse sometimes occurs - what was I thinking there? - and so this is less a Director's Cut than it is maybe Edited for Television.  I plan to post about each story to promote the collection when it appears.  It's been fun to return them.  Most of them I hadn't looked at since they were published.

The hardest thing with revision is knowing when to quit.  Also hard is knowing when and where to start.  An invaluable resource to me for years now has been Revising Fiction, by David Madden.  I found it at Barnes and Noble and I've never put it down.  I recommend it for advancing and advanced writers alike.  What I enjoy most is that the book never quits on me.  As I grow as a writer, some of the sections and ideas in the book reveal themselves, or take on new meaning.

One thing I plan to do this week and maybe next is pull out some pieces from the book and offer some of my own thoughts as to how they relate to my writing, and maybe yours.

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