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Big Picture Revisions – How to make them your bitch

Afternoon kids,

I know, I know, I know. You just got some feedback, opened it up only to find that it was practically RED with mistakes, suggestions, comments, and the very worst of it pointed out issues consistent throughout your entire manuscript. So now you’re back in bed snuggling with the homie–self-doubt. 

Listen, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, you finished a book, dude. That’s a whole lotta words, a whole lotta time being spent analyzing writing you’ve read 400 odd times, a whole lotta space to fuck up on. If you didn’t fuck up at least once we would have bigger problems like–are you the second coming?

Here’s the thing, everyone on this planet has the propensity to be a little bitch. Right? Like we all wanna mourn the fact that we aren’t perfect and let it get the best of us for a couple of hours. But ay, rejoice bro. You ain’t perfect, you’re on this planet because this world needs your gifts, needs the contributions that ONLY YOU can give to society. This world needs you to grow, conspire with it, for it, in it. 

AND, if you’re getting feedback at all, that means you’re putting your work out into the world. HELLO. That is no small feat. Most people aren’t letting their craft see the light of the day. Most people are working office jobs that they hate. Sure, that looks pretty good from the outside because they’re making money at the moment and you’re not. They know where they’re gonna be in a year and you don’t. They did the school, they got the job, and now all there is left to do is just do the job. The same way. Every day of the year.

FUCK THAT. 

Who cares.

You feel like you work so hard and you aren’t being rewarded. You feel like all your friends have it so easy in their jobs. You feel like nobody sees how hard you’re working. I do. We all do. 

YOU’RE A WRITER. GOOD GOD, IF WRITING WAS EASY THERE WOULD BE NO VALUE IN IT. YOU WILL BE REWARDED. IF YOU LOVE IT ENOUGH, WORK HARD AT IT, AND REFUSE TO GIVE UP, YOU WILL BE REWARDED.

I know, you want to make money. You want to hold your book in your hands with that slick little cover you maybe helped design, a few good reviews, and the coveted italicized “NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER” jutting out across the top.

We all do.

How you gonna get there if you’re gonna waste precious hours of your day thinking you suck just because your critique partner said that you have too much passive voice?

You aren’t. I promise you that. If you waste more time feeling sorry for yourself than you do actually applying the VALUABLE feedback, you’re NEVER gonna get there.

Here’s my situation:

I am currently drowning in revisions. I’ve had about fivedifferent sources of feedback and only on one occasion have I had two people point at the same problem.

Which means… I got a whole slew of problems.

  1. Telling instead of showing
  2. Too many adverbs
  3. Too many adjectives
  4. Too many crutch words
  5. Run-on sentences
  6. Paragraphs that need to be broken up
  7. Backstory top-heavy 

IT FEELS LIKE EVERYTHING IS WRONG AND I’M DOING NOTHING RIGHT, RIGHT??

Wrong.

I’m doing everything right. I’m taking the feedback as suggestions for improvement and I am selective. I know my work well enough to be a little picky when it comes to what I do and don’t apply to my manuscript. Sometimes I get dumb feedback. Sometimes I read it and realize that this particular reader wants to know more than I’m willing to let on in the beginning pages. Sometimes my reader is just being a jackass. It happens.

The number one thing I don’t do? Defend my mistakes. Deny that I have any at all. I don’t take criticism just because I feel like I have to. 

Don’t give into pressure. Just because someone took time out of their day doesn’t mean that you HAVE to apply their suggestions to your manuscript. It’s your manuscript, mark it up all you want. Leave it how it is. Do whatever, but don’t let feedback fall on a closed mind.

They don’t give a fucking shit if you disagree by the way, so don’t email them back thinking that they will.

So how do I do it? How do I take the feedback? How do I jump for joy when I open up one of my chapters that’s covered in neon and dotted with bubble comments?

I take it one thing at a time. 

When one of my beta-readers told me that I was telling instead of showing, it was pretty catastrophic. Doesn’t get much bigger picture wise than that. Especially considering my high word count of 103K. That’s every page, every paragraph that needs revising. She dropped that bomb on me about a month and a half ago. I’m still working valiantly on it. One day at a time. 

IT IS NOT A RACE. SURE YOU’D RATHER BE 25 THAN 26 WITH A BESTSELLER, WE ALL WOULD. RESPECT THE MO FUCKIN PROCESS. 

At the time it looked a little bleak. I have this problem where I can’t picture myself getting published so I believe I’m never going to. It’s such a huge mistake to make. Believe you’re going to get there, but don’t get hung up on what will happen if you don’t.

What happens happens, you don’t have much of a hand in the game unfortunately.

We can’t see or predict the future. Don’t stop just because you can’t picture a finish line. Fuck the finish line, the worth is in the going. 

Here’s how you can make things easier on yourself:

  • Apply the smaller stuff first! That way your list of revisions dwindles down quicker and you’re looking at yourself with newfound appreciation because you’re doing at least something. 
  • Put on some music and dance around your room when you know it’s about time that you sat down and started in on the big picture revision your CP or beta reader just gave you.

Recommended tracks of the month:

  1. Say It – Flume
  2. Side to Side – Ariana Grande
  3. Greedy – Ariana Grande
  4. Thinking Bout You – Ariana Grande
  5. Sleep on the Floor – The Lumineers
  6. I Don’t Fuck With You – Big Sean
  7. Sorry – Beyoncé
  8. Army of One – Coldplay
  9. Some Kind of Drug – G-Eazy
  10. Falling – Haim
  11. New Romantics – Taylor Swift
  12. All You Had To Do Was Stay – Taylor Swift
  13. Suburbia – Troye Sivan
  14. Lost Boy – Troye Sivan
  15. Paperdoll – John Mayer
  16. Been You – Justin Bieber
  • Picture your book as a movie, see your characters, honor them! Make their story the best it can be by taking that big picture revision and making it your bitch.
  • Read someone else’s book. God, any book that’s ever been published and realize that this person got there only because they sat and they worked tirelessly to get that stupid book published. They sat there and they did exactly what you are doing. They doubted their self, they doubted their worth, they doubted the validity of what they were doing. They swore they would never get there. They hated themselves, their book, their life. They hated every literary agent that turned them down. They swore they wouldn’t give up but often felt like maybe they should. They questioned whether or not they were meant to be a writer. They made excuses. They fought hard. And they succeeded.
  • There is so much worth in this process. Don’t rush it, let it happen at its own pace. Once it gets in the hands of a literary agent, editor, publisher, you no longer have any say! Cherish these moments in time when the book’s fate is completely in your hands. You have all the say in the game right now–how good it can be, how big it can be, how much it can do. 
  • Find a favorite scene that you wrote. Found it? Save it. And every time you doubt your work, read that scene. Give yourself a pat on the back. If you’re loving and appreciating your work, you are already half-way there.
  • And for the love of god, you’re not an aspiring writer.

You’re a fucking writer.

That’s all for now kids,

Charlee

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