In My Wildest Dreams: Adventures in Children's Fiction

Revision and the Taming of Two Horses

I always look forward to the task of revision, then immediately long for the carefree days of tapping the keys, meeting the characters listening to their story. But revise I must.

Sometimes it feels like raking up leaves in a high wind or chasing a lottery ticket along the seafront. Other times it seems like the plot is almost there, but it cannot quite be recalled, like waking from a vivid dream the details of which are suddenly lost.

Then inevitably halfway through the first read comes the loss of confidence and the realisation that you are going to have to write much of the novel over again, and that is like straddling pair of wild horses who want to pull in different directions, whilst juggling three flaming torches. It's an unnerving journey.

So I try to proceed methodically:

  • A read through, spotting immediate faults with the plotting and characterisation.
  • Listing the key things that need to be changed.
  • Producing a good plot outline (scene by scene).
  • Re-writing and/or deleting scenes and introducing new characters as necessary.
  • Re-reading and sharpening the plot.
  • Sharpening the prose and checking for typos.
Right now though I am staring at two wild horses.