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Dread of revision

by Rob
(Stoke on Trent, England)

I've completed a rough first draft of my very first short story, but have become afraid to revise it. It's been sitting, face down, beside my computer for the past ten weeks, tormenting me. I can't even bring myself to read it.


The thought of line editing doesn't feel so bad, but the prospect of having to change the 'big picture' just paralyses me. I feel I wouldn't really know where to start and might mess it up.

I've been writing for a long time, though only on a personal basis and never narrative fiction, which for me somehow seems more difficult to revise.

I would be grateful for any advice you could offer that might help to overcome this fear.

ANSWER

Hi Rob. The longer you write fiction, the more you will enjoy the revision process.

Writing a first draft is normally only the beginning of any writing project, large or small. It would be rare for even a professional writer to finish a story in one draft.

Most stories need revising many times before they are publishable, so you might think of your first draft as the outline of the story. Now it's time to go in and do the real work of fleshing the story out with the appropriate details that will bring the action and thoughts to life for the reader.

You might try reading about writing short stories, as you may find information in the reading that will give you ideas about what to do next. Or you might take the piece to a writing group--in person or online--for feedback. If you want professional advice, take it to a writer-in-residence or hire a mentor. A professional will be able to spot and articulate strengths and weaknesses that others cannot.

And remember, you can't really mess it up. It is a work in progress. Keep each daft, and if you like something better the way it was previously, change it back. Good luck!

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