Confession time: I used to hate revision. I was in love with every word I put on the page and thought I knew what I was doing from the first sentence. Then I got serious about writing and realized I had a lot to learn about the process of creating a novel.
Now I can honestly say I love revision. I think of it as solving a puzzle. I have all these separate pieces that need to fit together neatly by the end.
Once I have a draft, the first step for me is outlining what I have. (I write a synopsis of the story before I start drafting, but that usually changes as I write.) I list what happens in every scene, along with chapter length, setting, etc. This gives me a larger picture of the story and it helps me figure out if there’s anything missing.
Then I start reading through with an eye for character development, plot holes, etc. I can’t help fixing wording and grammar issues as I go, even though there’s a big chance I’ll be cutting some of those sentences later. And yes, during this process, I cut A LOT. Nothing on the page is sacred.
When I’ve gone through the manuscript several times and am happy with it (or, more likely, sick of looking at it) I hand it over to my husband who is always my first reader. Based on his feedback, I do a round of revision. Then I send the manuscript to a critique partner and revise based on her comments. I keep going like this until I’m finally ready to send the manuscript to my agent and then to my editor. The process is long and tedious, but it’s worth it.
When I think back to that young writer who was tied to every word on the page, I have to smile. She was in love with telling the story. I’m in love with getting the story right.
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Stanszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston with her husband and their black Labrador, Emma.
When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending, all published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at www.annastan.com.
She even has a cool trailer: