Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Weekly Workshop: Revise, Baby, Revise

As I am working on my next manuscript, I am also reading Twilight, and it's been surprisingly helpful. I'll try to explain why. I just finished a passage where the two main characters, Bella, a human, and Edward, a vampire, are sitting in a meadow and touching each other. Nothing passionate, just...touching. A hand to a cheek or a finger on a wrist kind of touching. This passage was over ten pages long.

As I read I find myself thinking two things: first, who edited this and why, oh why didn't they think to cut more? Do we really need to read over three hundred pages of these two staring at each other and forgetting how to breathe? Really? And second, maybe I should revise my poems one more time.

Contrary to the Beat Generation's myth-making claim that the first draft is always the best (i.e. the most honest and energetic), revision is extremely important to any writer...often more important than the original moment of composition or creation. When we first create, we really don't know what we're saying. It is only when we return to a piece that we can refine our themes, add depth, fix mistakes, consider aspects such as sound and form, and, yes, get rid of the deadwood.

So, my assignment for you this week is exactly what I will be doing as I slog through the second half of Stephanie Meyer's doorstop. Return to an old piece, one you consider done and perfect, and look at it through new eyes. Then revise and many times as it takes.

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