In response to a reader’s request for tips on revision, Neil Gaiman writes:
The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.
To me, Mr. Gaiman is spot on. Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do in the world – it’s almost like I feel guilty when a put a piece down. The reward, though, is always there – in the form of fresh eyes and an improved product.
William C. Knott, in The Craft of Fiction, cogently observes that “anyone can write – and almost everyone you meet these days is writing. However, only the writers know how to rewrite, It is this ability alone that turn the amateur into a pro.” — taken from Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft (Burroway and Stuckey-French).
I don’t think Mr. Knott could be any more
write right- because revision, I’m afraid, is a pain in the [____]. It takes an insane amount of determination and dedication; in most cases, it’s fueled by desire and rather than creativity. It is subject to constant battles against procrastination, this post just the latest piece in the onslaught. I remind myself that people, like the three mentioned authors above, have conquered this process before, and so, so can I. Look at the bright side, 80,000 is nothing when it comes to revision!