The Art of Vomit Sculpting: Revision
The Art of Vomit Sculpting: Revision

The Art of Vomit Sculpting: Revision

There’s only one important piece of advice I can give anyone how to write the first draft of a novel (or anything, for that matter):

Finish it.

If you have nothing written, you have nothing to revise. There isn’t any magic trick to finishing a book other than dedication. It’s okay to make mistakes and messes, and it’s okay to know you’ll have to come back later and do a better description of the flying rainbow whirligig in chapter 8. The most important thing is to finish.

Revising isn’t so simple. Since returning from Los Angeles, I’ve been deep in the bowels of revision hell putting to use some of the excellent feedback I got at the retreat. It’s both thrilling and agonizing—thrilling because I can see my book getting closer to something I’ll be proud to query, and agonizing because there are still days when I feel like I will never get there.

I’ve learned more about writing from revising this book than I did by drafting my other four novels combined. I don’t think there is any one right way to revise (or to draft for that matter) as every writer’s process is different. However, I do suggest the following:

  • Set aside a first draft for a while before attempting any revision at all.
  • Always make major changes to plot/structure before trying to line edit.
  • Find a critique partner or beta reader who gives honest, detailed feedback.
  • Be kind to your beta/critique partner—wait to send out your draft until you truly feel it is the best you can make it on your own. The same applies to querying agents.
  • Revise ruthlessly, but also be kind to yourself during the process. After all, both you and your book are works in progress.

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