Now that I’ve gotten 8 critiques on my work, it’s time to put those puppies to use and revise my first chapter. Revising – to me – is the hardest part of the creative writing process. Here you’ve got this piece of artwork you’ve created that is pretty good, and now using the varying and contradicting suggestions you’ve gotten, you have to make it even better. But there’s no guarantee that by changing things up you will make your work better; you still run the risk of making it worse.
Much like a cat hoarder who’s finally been found out by animal control, I have to carefully examine my work and choose the pieces I want to keep and the ones I can bear to let go of. Like William Faulkner once said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”
I tend to get overly attached to things, so this processes is particularly painful for me. I cried like the 7 year old child I was when my parents traded in our family car – the only car I had ever really known – for a new(er) one. Apparently I was the only one who found any significance in the fact that we had brought my little brother home from the hospital in that car, but whatever. It’s time to kill some darlings.
It seems like the major criticism of this first chapter is that there’s not enough character development. So that is something I am trying to improve upon. The challenge is building characters without throwing off pacing. If you read Chapter One, then you know there was a lot of action; I don’t want to break up that action with character descriptions and thereby lose the reader. On the other hand, if the reader is sitting there thinking “What the heck do these people look like?” then they’re probably a little lost already.
Here’s another point I would like to make on revising, just in case you ever submit something you have written to be critiqued. It’s important to keep an open mind and consider each critique carefully. A lot of the time, you’ll get great suggestions and you’ll slap yourself for not thinking of that yourself. BUT, even though all critiques aim to be helpful, not all of them will be right. There comes a time when you have to rely on your inner editor and say “thanks, but no thanks.”
So that’s what I’ve been doing with my weekend. Once I believe I’ve done enough revising I will resubmit my chapter for critiques, and I’ll probably post it here for you to peruse at your leisure.
As always, thanks for reading!