I had an interesting epiphany this week. I was discussing my book with someone, who pointed out a lot of plot holes.
Of course, my first reaction, as it always is when I get a harsh critique, is despair. The book needs to be completely revamped. Have I learned anything at all as a writer? Etc., etc.
When that passed (eventually it does), I had some time to think. I already knew some plot points weren’t working, and I want to fix those.
But my almost immediate reaction to many of the suggestions was: “Wait. Fixing it that way wouldn’t work for my book.”
I’m not sure if this is ever happened to me. I’ve had some harsh critiques, and I’ve truly grown from them. But most often when I get critiques, I think, “Of course, they’re right.” And I proceed to make changes. The problem is, that I often end up in circles, rewriting, revising, ad nauseam, never really sure if I’ve met the mark, because I don’t have a clear vision for my book.
I’m not sure if it’s because I went to that Darci Pattison retreat in January and the first thing she had us do was write down the heart of our story—the one thing that we wouldn’t change—but I feel totally different about this book. I have a vision. I know what kind of book I want this to be. And though some of those suggestions I received might work for another book, they wouldn’t work for mine.
I wonder if having a vision is what keeps you from going round and round on the revision merry-go-round, never knowing when or how to get off.
I know now what’s missing from another manuscript that I’m stuck on: vision. Before I start anew, before I change another word, I need to decide why I wrote that book. I need to be able to answer: what’s the point?
I can't say that revising will go any easier this time, but I hope knowing the heart of my story will help me know when to stop revising, when what I've written has matched the story in my head.
Now, I'm curious about you:
How do you keep the heart of your story in mind as you revise and/or get feedback?