Friday, October 15, 2010

Revisions, Revisions

Sadly -- or happily, I can never make up my mind -- I'm not doing revisions right now. However, I recently agreed to move chairs and things for a local show. (It's a nice gig, actually. Great people, light work, and I get to see the one-acts several times for nothing. Have I mentioned lately I really like theater?) I worked the dress rehearsal, and thus heard the script for the first time. One of cast members said, "You're going to see a completely different show tomorrow." I didn't know if that could be as different as she made it sound, but with a challenge like that, you better believe I paid attention the next night.

Massively different show.

The second night, about two pages of script I hadn't heard before suddenly appeared. (Hey, things happen at dress rehearsal. And if I didn't notice it missing, it means they must have carried it off well. They're quite good.) Changed so much. Suddenly, the relationship between two characters became radically different. This effected the relationship these characters had with a mutual friend, also a part of the show. And a how lot about one of the character's back story became apparent. Totally changed the way I looked at him.

What does this have to do with revisions?

Well, the differences between the versions I saw made me think of different drafts of a book. Between version one and version two, character motivations may change, you might become aware of back story you hadn't previously known, or minor -- maybe even major -- characters might meet with a sudden, untimely death by way of a red pen. Things happen. Things change.

I remember writing the Thief Book. Between versions one and three, nine characters fled into the night never to be seen again, at least in that MS. One new bloke appeared on the screen, and one girl's part grew to subplot sized.

The long and short of it is, in between drafts, things change. Lots of things. Sometimes big things. Huge, colossal, size of a small town with mid-sized populous things. We must accept this. Our stories are not carved in stone. No, they are forged in metal. Thus, they can be taken apart, melted down, reforged, remade, cut off, reaffixed, and otherwise altered. Nothing's perfect, and nothing's permanent.

Things change. Life happens. Roll with it.

How's your writing coming? Revisions? Things changing? Big changes? Small changes? What's the biggest change you've ever made to an MS in between drafts?


  1. I just got a critique back so I'm rolling up my sleeves...two big things and a bunch of little stuff...enough to disrupt sleep for the foreseeable future. Ahhh! NaNoWriMo may have to wait for another year.

  2. I ripped out a major subplot today.
    It takes several rounds of revisions for me to get a book the way I want it.

    Have a wonderful weekend! :)

  3. In my screenplay for college, I ripped out a huge confrontation scene at the beginning between characters A and B, then ended up giving a huge confrontation scene toward the end between A and C. Oh, and I completely threw out an overly complex backstory of B, which meant tossing out his father and another villain completely. But that was partly due to time and length restrictions ;)

  4. Carolyn -- Good luck with your revisions. Hope your sleep comes back soon. Sleep's nice.

    Lola -- Ouch. That's gotta hurt. I definitely hear you on the several revisions things. One is definitely never enough.

    Vicki -- Yes, length restrictions can be enough necessitate big changes. My current WIP is shaping up to be 100K. I can see major cuts in my future. I'll definitely know your pain.