Revision Can Be Fun. Seriously.

If you are writing a novel, you would know this - there is a first draft and then there are reviews. While some do two or three reviews, I have heard of writers who go on to 22nd version of the same book! Phew!
No matter how many revisions you did, it is always seen in a bad way. First draft is fun. Revision is hard. Because that's where the real work begins. But wait. Aren't first drafts just a place to store the story and revisions is where you actually write. And if you are a writer and you are revising your novel, that is writing it, how can it be not fun? Huh?

This comes from someone who had a small fit before she could start her novel revision. Yeah, that's me. As my blog post on this says, I got pretty riled up about my stupid fear and got all focused to finish the revision. So, I scoured through innumerable blogs and websites advising me on how to best revise it. I have to admit I was all the more discouraged from doing it. They described it as a very difficult job and pretty bloody too. Imagine the quotes that were quoted to explain the difficulty -

"There's nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. - Walter Wellesley 

"Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. ~Gene Fowler "

Not sure about you, but it scared me mighty. Then I thought if it is that difficult and depressing, why are there thousands of writers who still labor under it to get their books finished? I think that's because it is fun.

Revision is fun because:

1. You get to write what you missed out before: If you are anything like me, I often introduce new characters, objects, hair colors and wings suddenly without giving them a proper introduction. When I revise, I get to do the honors and give them proper respect.

2. You get to remove the awkward parts: I actually had the following dialogue in my book between a father and daughter - "What happened daddy" asked the daughter. "Nothing dearest" replied the father. And then the next chapter. Yeah. Imagine that going to the publisher. How cool that I get to revise that!

3. You get to make your story shinier - As you go through your story again, you see the gaps glaring at you and you fill them, making the surface even more polished. You get to make your lovely story lovlier! Imagine the power behind it - only you can do that better.

4. You get to read your own story - That by far I feel is the biggest reward. The first draft, the first out pour of your imagination is complete and ready for your eyes. You read it as a book that soon would be for others to read. But you read it first. You  know its flaws but you also know its strengths. It is like your child whose strengths and weaknesses you can see but love her anyway. And then the fun begins where you get to make it stronger, eliminating all its weaknesses. That's pure joy in my dictionary.

The basic point I want to make in this post regarding revision is - it is essential and it is for your good. Let us not compare it with drinking bitter medicine because it is good. Writing a novel is like building a software. First you draw the software design. That's the first draft of your novel. Then, you write the code for the software so that it becomes usable. That is the revision phase. One cannot imagine a software without some kind of program in it. The same goes for your novel. Ask a software programmer if he thinks writing code is bursting a vein? He would probably laugh at you. Then how can revision not be fun? :)

So, my dear fellow writers. Revise your novel with a smile and enjoy the process. That's the only way you can ensure your book rocks quite a few bookstores! 


  1. I don't envy writers. I know their works is hard. But I sure do admire them. I'm glad to know you have such a positive attitude about revisions. Thanks for sharing your musings on the process.

    Good luck.

  2. Shilpa, Neil would like to send you a coupon. Will you contact me and send me your email address?

    And your post is right on! Writing is hard and takes lots and lots of time.

  3. Hi Shilpa,
    "Revise your novel with a smile" - I must remember this and implement this piece of advice when I write.
    You are absolutely right - the first draft is real fun. One wants to send it off to a publisher straight away and start writing your next story. But then a hurried first draft is sure to come back rejected.
    As you say, revising is a must so might as well enjoy it.
    Thanks for a good post.

  4. @Missie - I try to be positive! :) Thats the only way I can complete the book...and then, just like you, books are my rescue whenever I am down...
    @Marilyn - Welcome to my blog and so glad you are here! thank you for the kind comment...I wll email you shortly.
    @Vikram - Welcome to my blog! I can relate to that enthusiasm with the first draft...i am always like "its perfect! why revision?" :D Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Revising is my absolute FAVORITE. With every revision, it makes me so much more excited, because my book is getting SO MUCH BETTER. Honestly, I love it even more than drafting. It's when I get to see that piece of coal shine like a diamond. :)

  6. Peggy, I admire your enthusiasm about revising. I am opening up to the idea of revision and I realised (pleasantly!) that it is good. It makes my story so much better!

  7. Hello Shilpa - i like your blog. You and I have the same theme. We write about the road to getting published (and the hideous query letter.) I, too, spend time revising my manuscript. The first step for me is to just write - let it completely flow out of me and even different scenes from different character's POVs. Seriously, my first 'manuscript' was 196k words. Eeeks. I have since narrowed it down to 66k, changed POV and tense and now it is where I want it. Now, revisions include typo's, spelling, grammar and flow. Oh, and the query letter. ugh. Yes, pushing SEND is difficult. Ha.

  8. Melissa, so glad you liked my blog. I feel a lot related to your blog too because we are on the same road. It is interesting that you write it from different POVs as well in your first draft. I would definitely like to try it out next time. All the best for the revision and the elusive query letter! :)

  9. Don't know much about writing Fiction, as I do not have any experience of that yet. But while writing reviews of books and short stories, I actually like the iterative part of the process. The first draft comes out to be too long and very scattered. The actual work starts from the subsequent attempts and start liking the tighter and succinct version.

    You have an interesting blog.

  10. I agree with the article revision Vibha. The first draft of the article always comes up long and cluttered. I feel the revisions are implicit there. It is implicit even for fiction writing and something as long as a novel. It is just the sheer volume and deep attachment to it that makes it harder! :) Thanks so much for stopping by and glad you liked the blog!


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