Monday, May 21, 2012

It's Not Simply Revision, It's Radical Renovation

I've recently (but not so very recently) stumbled across two very interesting terms: upcycling and re-purposing. Now, these terms aren't new--in fact, they're just really specific terms for recycling via craftiness--but they are much better at expressing something that should be a large part of a writer's day-to-day life.

As an English instructor, I come across some very skewed conceptions of "revision" on a frequent basis. Most people seem to think that "revision" is the act of editing: spell check, grammar check, punctuation check, and maybe a quick rampage through the thesaurus for good measure.

I'm sorry to burst your collective bubbles, but that's not really the case.

Revision is the radical renovation of something that exists--it's like turning your dark, tiny, frumpy bathroom into a wonder rivaling an ancient Greek temple, complete with beautifully tiled floors and a jacuzzi. In that respect, writing itself is an act of revision--it is the manipulation of an existing thought or series of thoughts, an addition or change to any pre-exisiting existing body of work on the subject, the shift from "light-bulb!" to "tangible-product!"

I say all of this because I finally acknowledged the nagging voice in the back of my head, demanding a real revision of my work in progress (WIP). That little voice has been dissatisfied with my protagonist for quite some time, it's been suggesting that I nix her because the real story I am trying to tell revolves around two of the secondary characters.

In short, I'm not merely "revising" (editing) my story, I'm purposing my story. The same fibers are being used, and even though it looks completely different, it's more or less the same book, but in the end, it will be a messenger-bag instead of a suit coat.