6 Rules for Revising a Manuscript
Revisions are always tough. Tougher still when those revisions involve completely rearranging a number of key scenes. I’d been ready to add or delete, tweak and change, but this? This was going to be something entirely new, and it was going to require a new degree of discipline.
So, I developed a list of rules.
First: Don’t work at home. Editing in pajamas is fun, but where there are cats, cat snuggling will take precedence. Cat snuggling will not help an incomplete manuscript.
Second: Don’t work at the bar in any restaurant, even if that’s where you can find easy access to plugs. Much like cat snuggling, chatting with the bartender is an enticing and unhelpful distraction.
Third: Deviate from the soundtrack. So much of my writing comes from musical inspiration, but listening to the same songs means revisiting the same ideas and perspectives. New music means new ideas means solutions to plot and character problems you didn’t know you had.
Fourth: Deadlines. Do not accept extensions. Real life will try and get in the way. It will distract and slow you down. A deadline gives you the sort of solid foundation you need to sit down and get to work even when it’s done!
Fifth: Take it seriously. This is a job. This is an investment. This will be bigger than you and your insecurities, so time to push past them and get on with it.
Sixth: Don’t take it seriously at all. At the end of the day, all you can do is your best. When professionalism turns to anxiety, you’ve gone too far. Step back. Drink some tea. Remind yourself that you’re meant to enjoy this bit.
By the end, I’d warmed up to the process, and in fact found myself shooting emails during copyediting with little things I wanted to tweak. Hard as it was, the process polished Ironspark into a tighter, lovelier story than I could have generated on my own!