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Thursday, January 10, 2008
Why Revision Matters
Posted by Colleen Thompson
As I meticulously make my way through this set of revisions, I'm reminded of one reason so few people are capable of producing a publishable novel. A lot of folks are blessed with talent, and a fair percentage of them also have the required stubbornness (or arrogance, depending on how you choose to look at it) to persist through the submission-rejection cycle. Of these, an even smaller subset will read widely, study the industry, and get an accurate feel for the market segment they wish to target. That still leaves a lot of people, but of this group, even fewer will have the focus and attention to detail it takes to go through the same manuscript the number of times it takes to bring out its potential.
We used to live in a world that produced a lot more patient craftsmanship, a world that understood and valued the tireless pursuit of one's best effort. Today's faster-paced society, with its swift travel, lightning-fast communications, and emphasis on rapid-fire production, doesn't create as many individuals prepared for the arduous effort needed to pore through four hundred pages (and then some, in my case) of character arcs, plot elements, rising action, themes, etc. and attend to each detail. It's a shame, a real loss, but there are those of us who still enjoy it
-- or at least resolve to suffer through it -- to do our best by the story. Since we're flawed and human, the finished product will never be perfection, but even so, there's a quiet type of joy to be gained in the pursuit.