Nov 24, 2015

How Writers Write Fiction week 7: Revision


So, the last session of How Writers Write Fiction has come and gone. Whew! I'll be glad to get back to my regular writing schedule. But first, a few words about revision. 

Revision is just that, re +vision, seeing the text with fresh eyes. We talked about layering, as in adding layers of depth to your description, and on the other had doing several passes over the text for different aspects of writing, like grammar, character arcs, using all the senses, and dialogue. 

You can edit all you like, but the hard truth is that you need feedback from other people to move forward. Taking criticism well is hard, and I'm glad the session had some pointers on that and how to get the most out of your critiques. I think that participating in a critique group helps with developing those skills (and to develop a thicker hide, chitinous carapace, whatever). 

While the session was titled "Embracing Revision," it had a lot to do with subtext. A part of our required reading was "The Secret Life of Subtext" by John McNally.

Here's a quote: 

If the story itself is a lake, then its subtext is the Loch Ness monster, dipping in and out, keeping mostly hidden, but sometimes rising up and scaring the bejesus out of you. Or sometimes the subtext is the main story's doppelgänger: it looks like the main story, it has the same cast of characters, but it's acting in peculiar ways, and (more frighteningly) it has its own agenda.Revision is the act of teasing the Loch Ness monster out of the water or drawing the doppelgänger out from the shadows so that we can take a good look, see it more clearly, and perhaps understand why it's doing what it's doing.

Something to think about. (And I do love a good Loch Ness monster metaphor.) 
Great course. I'm happy I took part. I hope they do another one next year; I'll definitely join in the fun.  

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