Recently, a writer friend of mine listened patiently as I whined about revision. The  problem is you don’t do any real writing during revision I told her. Revision is a different beast entirely. It is sometimes gentle but mostly it is violent. For me it involves radical slash and burn, touch choices and bold destruction. Removing 6,500 words is stressful. I still have two chapters to go and they need major surgery.

Her suggestion was have a little fun and take a mini-break from revision! Take a scene you never wrote because it didn’t move the story along and write it now. Mix well with clichés and silliness, and let the results flow onto the page. You don’t have to worry, she assured me, because it will never see daylight. It will never be in your novel, and no one but you will ever read it.

I loved this exercise. I knew exactly what scene to write. Suddenly, I had the chance to expose a good, levelheaded MC to opportunities she would never have in the novel. Taking her to the crossroads and watching as she veered down the other path was exciting for her and funny for me. I let my good character behave badly and my evil character spread some cheer –  instead of fear. My wild folks galloped over the top scattering double entendres in every direction. I learned there is always another way to steer a story and, maybe, while the telling is different, the result can be the same.

Exploring the what ifs is liberating. I’m actually temped to have some brave soul read it. Just for fun.

How do you refresh your mind while traveling down the rutted road of novel revision?


  1. I wasn’t doing revision for long before I realized I was unhappy not writing new stuff. So, to keep things fresh, I wrote another story, just for myself, for fun. Well, that turned into another novel!
    I end up writing stuff for myself more days than not. Sometimes I write scenes with my characters because I miss them, and speculate what they are doing after the novel ends, or like you suggested, in the time between scenes. It’s great fun, and keeps the revision from becoming a chore.
    And, you know what? Those scenes that aren’t in the novel might make interesting blog posts someday! 😉

    1. Ditto everything you said! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one out there missing their people. I’m going to keep the just for fun story in mind. My husband and I are trying to think of a sequel to my WIP. This could be the way!

  2. Anything, but anything to get me away from revision.
    HAVE to just get an idea down on paper/screen.
    MUST just write this blog post.
    NEED to answer emails.
    And now you’ve given me another excuse not to get on with it.
    Thank you.
    I think.

  3. Revision is definitely more complicated than writing. I can write exhausted, distracted, hungry, etc. But revision? I need to have a clear head for it. Writing is easier because you can fix it later…revision is the fixing! I wrote a blog post last week about what I’ve learned from revision if you’re interested…but I agree…tough pursuit! Revision is why most writers quit! I will not be one of them!!


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