As a full-time freelance editor, when it comes to my writing I know I need as much help as I can get! Writing the first draft is a solitary venture; self-editing and revision is not. Those critique groups are sooo important! Your first readers are so important, too.
For me, writing is the hard part. Getting those words down on paper/computer screen is really tough for me. But the editing/revision part is easy, and dare I say it, fun!!! Yeah, I’m right up there with Colleen Coble is saying that editing/revising/rewriting is the fun part of writing. But then, I took a little test to see what percentage of left brain vs. right brain I am . . . 95% vs. 5%. A little strong on the left-brain side, wouldn’t you say?
No wonder creating is so hard for me. And I’m a little OCD when it comes to sitting down and writing that first draft. I have to have everything down scene by scene or I can’t write. But for me, that unlocks the creative part of my brain, small though it is. When I write, new things still come out, my characters reveal more of themselves, or new characters appear out of nowhere demanding a significant role in the outcome of the story.
Being a part of two critique groups has helped me discover how I write/edit best. One is face-to-face where I get immediate feedback; one is online where the feedback maybe isn’t so immediate, but it’s just as good. I’ve learned to trust their instincts and insights. The best decision of my writing life was to join ACFW. My writing improved dramatically the first year. And I can’t stress enough the conferences, especially those that have a strong fiction track for the fiction writers. I’m also a nonfiction, devotional writer, so I look for conferences that provide both. The annual ACFW conference is the only Christian writers conference that is wholly devoted to fiction. I’m the director’s assistant for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Both are excellent conferences for writers on any level. Of course there are other conferences, regional and national. Check out what’s in your area, and prayerfully consider attending at least one conference this year.
Even in the editing process, though, I tend to rely heavily on charts and worksheets, character charts, story/plot arcs. I need to see it in outline form to make sure I’m covering all the bases. I study books on the craft of self-editing and revisions. Some of the best I’ve found are Renni and King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing, and Karen Wiesner’s From First Draft to Finished Novel. Another great resource for me has been Holly Lisle’s writing courses. They aren’t “cheap,” and the one I’m currently working through is a five to six month course, with new lessons every week. (I’m way behind on the lessons, but I’m plodding along.) The course is How to Revise Your Novel. You can check out Holly’s e-courses here.
Studying every aspect of the writing craft is essential to a successful career. So . . . I’m heading back into my revisions with renewed enthusiasm.
Marjorie Vawter is currently revising her third completed novel. Novels one and two reside in a file drawer in her office, still needing more revisions. She is currently writing a historical romantic mystery and a novella. Serving as the ACFW Colorado Area Coordinator, she’s blessed to know and serve so many Christian fiction writers who continually teach her to hone the craft of fiction writing.