Skip to main content

On Editing and Revisions

When you're in the midst of a revision on a book that you've been through a dozen times it's easy to get bogged down. It's easy to feel as though no sentence matters and word choices are less than meaningless. It's easy to feel like no one wants to read your book anyway. More than anything, it's easy to forget that you wanted to write this book in the first place.

I've been hovering around those feelings as I toil on the book I'm readying for publication. I've re-written whole sections, I've changed character motivations, I've added, subtracted, and, hopefully, multiplied.

And the hardest part of this process is having to keep the whole novel in your head, knowing that if you beat in a dent in one spot it won't protrude awkwardly in another spot altogether.

I'm constantly reminding myself that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

And it's easy to do that every time I find just the right word. Or tweak things in just the right spot. You can feel it. It all falls into place and there's almost no better feeling on Earth. But getting there is a slog.

Perhaps the hardest part for me is balancing the needs of the editor, the publisher, and my own artistic vision for the book. But the thing to remember is that we are all working on the same team to put out the best book possible, to tell the best story we can. And sometimes I'll put my foot down and fight for what I want, and other times I'll completely back pedal on my original idea because something that's been suggested is really that much better than anything I could have come up with.

Yes, sometimes it can be a fight. Or an incredibly intense creative discussion. Or a simple note on a page of manuscript mocking my original intentions. But working with an editor and a publisher is like working with a safety net. And I'm not sure why you'd ever want to work without one.

By way of an update this week, I was able to unveil an exclusive preview of Batgirl: Endgame #1 (which hits comic stands tomorrow) for Huffington Post. It's a good looking book and I can't wait to get an issue of it in my hands.

My latest for StarWars.com also came out. It's a piece examining the connection between Star Wars and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. I love writing these pieces as they force me to dig deep into stories and story structure and helps me better understand what makes my stories tick.

There were also two huge bits of Star Wars news I was excited about. First, Rogue One has been announced as the first standalone movie in the universe. The name almost automatically implies X-Wings, and that makes me happier than you can imagine. Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston, authors I feel privileged to have been able to call 'friend,' wrote the definitive takes on X-Wing pilots and combat in the Legendary Star Wars universe. That we might be able to get a taste of them on the big screen, no matter how minor, is a thrill to me. Mike wrote about it on his blog and you should read about it there.

The other big Star Wars announcement I'm excited for is Star Wars: Aftermath. It was announced that this will be the first in a trilogy to help us bridge the gap between Episode VI and VII and Chuck Wendig is writing.

I can't wait to read it and, at some point, offer congratulations to Mr. Wendig.

It's going to be great.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Anatomy of an Opening: The End of the Affair

Instead of breaking down a scene from a movie, this time we'll break down the opening of a book. (Previously, I've done scenes from City Lights, Citizen Kane, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  I've also broken down the opening to Starship Troopers.

Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is absolutely one of my favorite books. The writing is lyrical and story heart-wrenching and beautiful. Greene's style of writing is such that he always has me gripped, whether it's the beginning of the book or the end. And he shows you so much about the character in his opening lines.

So, here are the first two paragraphs from the book:
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which, to look ahead. I say 'one chooses' with the inaccurate pride of a professional writer who - when he has been seriously noted at all - has been praised for his technical ability, but d…

50+ Rules and Tips About Writing I've Collected Over the Years

I have twenty or thirty notebooks and journals filled up with snippets about writing, my plans for stories, bits of dialogue, interesting ideas, plotlines, scraps of short stories, and a dozen other things. I carry one with me at all times and it takes me a couple of months to fill one up.

One of the things I've kept in one of my notebooks was a collection of writing tips and rules that I've collected over the years in my travels. From teachers, from books, from wherever. Most of my career has been spent screenwriting, so a lot of these are most applicable to that, but I wanted to present them so they might be of use to you as well.

I've never stopped collecting these over the years and I never will.

To start the list are Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules of writing. They are the first in my notebook and, I think, the most useful. I'll add a star to those I think are applicable most to screenwriting. Some of these aren't applicable to everyone in every situation, but…

World Building Without Bogging Down Your Novel

I was asked to talk today about how you build a world without bogging down your novel. And it's something you see all too much of, not just in the work of those working toward becoming professionals, but in professionally published manuscripts as well.

Part of the problem is that writers become so in love with their world that they hit you with as much of it as they can right from the beginning. There are dumps and dumps of exposition that are supposed to paint a vibrant world, but too many colors of paint hit the canvas and instead of a beautiful sunset and a happy little tree, you're looking at a big smudge of brown where too many colors mixed.

That's not to say you can't get away with some florid description. Sometimes, my favorite passages in books are descriptions of the world that leave my breath taken.

But you don't need all of it in your book.

The question you need to ask yourself is this: does it add to the story?

If you're creating a fantasy or a sci…