Hacking the revision

I aspire to create art, so I’m always looking for ways to better my craft. Some days, I feel like the best hack for revising my current story is to take a machete to it; most of the time,
 though, I know it’s more useful
 to review it with a fresh brain.
 In master classes at the Kauai
 Writers Conference last month,
 I learned from some of North
 America’s best writers a batch
 of new-to-me ways to hit the
 refresh button.

Meg Wolitzer, author of the
 novels The Wife, The Female
 Persuasion, and many others,
 prints out pages in a different
font. If she composes in Times,
 for example, she’ll print out in
 Calibri to reread. Which fonts you choose doesn’t matter; the intention is to change the way the page looks so that you as the writer see it differently.

Josh Mohr is the author of the memoir Sirens as well as several novels. He reads each story aloud dozens of times. As well, he records himself reading a draft aloud from time to time and then listens to the recording in a different setting— when he’s jogging, for example. This lets him hear with fresh ears; it gets at his conscious and subconscious brain in a different way.

We writers often give our readers sensory details to evoke a story deeply for them. By using the tactics shared by these writers—I would say artists— we can use our senses to experience the story more thoroughly ourselves: the itch of repeated words, the vertigo of a sentence fragment and, on days of rare beauty, the glide of a perfect phrase.

Kauai Marriott
How it feels when you get the revision right. Or when you’re at a writers’ conference in Hawaii.


This article was previously published in the December 2019 edition of Tide Lines, the newsletter of the Vancouver Island Romance Authors.