Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Importance of Revision

Today I'm here (on my sister Ainsley's birthday), to preach to you the importance of revision.

Now, revision is the process of cleaning up your dirty, unwanted, filthy, vile, and otherwise unreadable manuscript, into something that other people besides your pet shark, Kenny, would want to read.

Revision is important for every author or aspiring author (ahem, me) out there.

No manuscript is perfect the first time out. If you thought J.K. Rowling just knocked out the Harry Potter series flawlessly, think again-- actually, she rewrote the first chapter of the first book eleven times before she thought it was worthy of publication.

Now, depending on how you revise, your manuscript can go either two ways: it can be a glossy, polished work of art (Harry Potter), or it can go down the drain and be a worthless piece of crud (The Maximum Ride series).

Let's go with the first scenario: The Harry Potter books are all flawless (depending on what you thought of Fred's death), seamlessly put together. That's why millions upon millions of people love them. They love the setting, the characters, the plot, and the subplots.

Harry Potter couldn't have wooed so many people on its first draft. No book can.

Now let's go with the second scenario: The Maximum Ride books are all confusing. Standing alone, they're okay. Put all three together, and you have a clown show. The plot changes three times in each of the novels, the back stories differ and change, also, and the plot itself is stupid.

This book had so much potential, so much going for it, and yet... it came up short. Short by a mile. James Patterson sold the book in its second draft-- that is, cleaned up a little so that the text is legible. And James Patterson can get away with it, because he is a published author. Published, esteemed authors can do whatever the hell they want.

Well, James Patterson lost a lot of my respect for him when I read that. If he didn't care enough about his book, to make it shine, like it needed to, then he shouldn't be published.

So anyway, do you see my point? Revision is important. Even though I do hate it with all get-out.


Charity said...

Ahem. "hell"?

Anonymous said...

I thought the first book was great! And then... the series really, really went downhill from there on.... :( Hmm, I didn't know that he sold the book in the second draft, but now that I think about it, that makes a lot of sense.... There were several plot points that he could have really improved, and then he didn't....

Oh. By the way, there's more than just three. I think there's 7 or 8 now. All disappointing. :(