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Monday, May 28, 2012

Nothing is Sacred

"Charlie Wants to Go, Too" - Cat sits in suitcase, ready to be packed. Photo © Laura Sheana Taylor.
Quick aside: Later this week I'm headed cross-continent to ConCarolinas again, which from its schedule looks to have many awesome offerings as far as writing panels go. My passport is valid this time, so getting there should be less of an issue this year. I shall return with more notes! And happy memories of seeing many of my Magical Words friends and mentors, of course. I'm sooo excited right now!


Now, onto the rest of the post.
* * *

So I've been revising. Still. Bit by bit, honestly. I'm going slowly partly because I want to be sure I properly address the issues that I've realized must be addressed, and partly because I keep learning new ways to make the story stronger. (In particular, I'm enjoying Faith Hunter's "Top Ten (Okay Eleven) Things You Should Know About Your Own Book" series. Such a wealth of information that has changed my story for the better.)

And since I've been revising seriously since the end of October (NaNoWriMo excepted), one truth keeps coming back to me.

Nothing is sacred.

I'm serious. I think I've hinted at this before, but I'm going to say it again, here, just to make the lesson clear: when it comes to revising, nothing is sacred. Nothing escapes the chopping block if it needs to go.

It's easy to get attached to a certain turn of phrase, a style that seems important, a particular course of events. It's even easier to assume during revisions that these things are SET IN STONE. They can't be changed! It has to be like that, right?


The only thing that *is* sacred is the story's soul. Its heartsong. The essence that makes it the story it is. All else is negotiable. Characters, writing style, events, you name it—they don't *have* to be there. Or if they do, they don't have to be exactly as you originally imagined them.

I'm not gonna lie here: chances are, your beautiful shiny manuscript bubble will be popped, repeatedly, by well-meaning beta-readers. Usually they'll have excellent feedback. Often they'll suggest changes that make sense. They may seem like big changes. You may get frustrated. You may want to scream and rage (hopefully privately) about the feedback that rankles you. Sure, get angry. I sometimes do (privately. only privately, people).  I've heard revisions compared to the Five Stages of Grief, and rightly so.

Perhaps this post isn't very helpful, except to let you know that if you're frustrated with rewrites, you're not alone. But for me, at least, realizing that I can tell a better story if I let go and open myself up to the possibilities before me has made this stage easier to deal with. Even if, at first, it really doesn't seem like it.

Take a deep breath. It's going to be okay. Sure, it's frustrating. But if it makes for a stronger story, then isn't it worth it?


  1. Ahh, revisions! I am so happy I'm done with those for now! You are SO right. Nothing is sacred. I had to cut gigantic chunks - some of my favourite scenes - right out. It broke my heart at the time, but now, the story is stronger so it was worth it!

    1. I feel your pain, Kyra. But doesn't it feel so much better afterward?

  2. You’re so right. One thing I do is think of each revision element as ‘a problem to solve’ and remind myself (I need a lot of self-reminding) that I *can* solve problems.

    1. Mirka, I honestly believe that we have all the answers, we just don't always know then. Sometimes our subconsciouses know better. And sometimes it takes someone else to point that out to us for us to make those connections. :)

  3. I did an R&R for an editor earlier this year in which I had to chop one of my favorite things about the manuscript. So yeah, nothing is sacred. ^_^

    1. Ow, that sounds painful, Angelina. Glad to hear you made it through. What exactly is an R&R, by the way?

  4. It's funny... Once you start chopping, you find yourself kinda enjoying axing out those bits you once loved. I can't ever DELETE them; I just save them in a Deleted Scenes file, and I wave at them lovingly on occasion. :)