A week ago, this draft was an egg. It had a beginning, middle and end. It had a structure and rising action. It had character description and setting. It had these things, but I knew that I could make it better. There were things that could be revised, other things to be cut entirely.
The first step to revising a full draft is to break that egg. Yes, it’s messy. I have to tear down the structure to discover its weaknesses, figure out a way to fix them. Along the way, bits that I really liked – descriptions, character details, creepy scenes – don’t work anymore, and need to be cut. Sometimes the cutting is refreshing, liberating. Other times I wince, back off, second-guess myself. Am I really taking this in the right direction? Do I really need to get rid of everything?
The answer is, quite often, yes.
And what am I left with after all of this messy shell-cracking, scrambling business? Something that looks a lot more rough than this novel did a week ago. But in spite of the roughness, it has greater potential (I can hope): the stakes are higher, the main character more interesting and complex, the tone a bit edgier, the plot more quickly-paced.
I’ve broken a lot of eggs. It’s a part of the writing process. Aside from the pain and difficulty of revision, isn’t it hopeful to know that all can be improved, mistakes mended? I’m willing to deal with a little mess to write a better book.