Week of July 29, 2012: Revise It, or Bury It?
Thursday, August 2—Frances Gilbert Says . . .
Editorial Director, Doubleday Children’s Books
(And Picture This! friend and contributor)
Ironically, in terms of my own writing, I’m terrible at revising and am prone to abandonment. Hope these answers are helpful:
1.) You know that adage that a camel is a horse designed by a committee? Sometimes when an author is working on many drafts of a manuscript and is getting a lot of feedback, the manuscript suddenly turns into a camel. The authenticity of the voice is gone and the story starts to feel like it was written by a group. It’s important to absorb feedback but keep true to your intentions.
2.) I used to teach an adult literacy class and had trouble getting appropriate reading material for my students, who were reading at a second-grade level. So once I took a short story of mine that I’d been struggling with for years and pared the language and structure back to its bare bones so my students could read it, and suddenly realized it was my best draft yet. Sometimes it can be helpful to strip a story down to bare metal and see what you’ve got.