Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Revisions are Really About: Getting to Know Your Story

A lot of the time spent in the revision process involves getting to know your characters and story on deeper levels. I've noticed that it takes me a whole draft to get the story, then maybe two or three sets of revisions before I really know the characters. It's good to know I'm not the only one. In responding to my post on when to stop revising, here's what some of my commenters said:

Tabitha Bird: "I know to stop writing when I can write a good query letter. When I can sum up the book and I know what it is about and the whole thing makes sense, then I know I am there."

Karen Strong: "I can't even began to tweak my pitch or query until I'm almost near finishing revisions. I just don't really know yet until it's at that point."

I suppose that's why some people  make character sheets, setting descriptions, highly detailed plot summaries etc, before they begin writing. But until I put my characters into situations where they have to act and react, I don't really know them, or the surprises they will bring to the story.


  1. Thanks for sharing the comments. I'm in the same boat as Karen--I need to be close to the end before nailing the pitch point in a query.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  2. I've tried to do the character sheets but for some reason, they don't work for me in the beginning of a novel project. It's like a bunch of text about a person I don't really know.

    I'm like you where the only way I can get to know my characters is by putting them in the story and in the action. With revisions, I get to know them that way.

    I'm still open to the character sheets, but for now, I'll roll with what works! :)

  3. I read a post about keeping a file of character memories. (I feel bad that I can't remember where though!) Memories cue you in so much better to who the character is and what matters to them then basic facts. As for plotting, I can't get myself to stick to what I plot out! When I come to the scene, flow takes over and I just have to follow the whim.

  4. That's an interesting idea, Dayana. I can see how writing a character's memories could turn into a whole novel.


I love to hear your responses and thoughts! Your comments will appear after moderation (I've decided to enable moderation due to excessive spam).