There’s that old saying that ‘anyone can write a novel’ and I’ve come to realise that this might be true. Writing it is not necessarily the hard part – it’s reworking what you have written into a cohesive story with consistent characters who have goals and motivations that complement the theme of the novel.
I have never revised a novel before. When I began with the idea of the novel I thought that the writing would be the hard part. It was difficult, I admit. But, it seems easy in comparison to revising said novel.
Writing is something that the majority of people can do – perhaps not well, but they at least understand how to put one word after another and construct a sentence that will create a paragraph that will, hopefully, make sense and contribute to a story. As a result, it is feasible that ‘anyone can write a novel’. However, the act of revising a novel is likely to flummox most people because we don’t get taught how to do this. Unlike writing a story (which are all around us so we can at least learn via osmosis!), it’s not as straight-forward as teaching it to yourself because you can’t rely on plain instinct to get you through it all the time.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been lost. I know my novel has the potential to be a good story; it’s how to realise that potential that I’m struggling with. What I have been missing is a structured means to analyse it and improve it. Trying to invent that myself has been unsuccessful. What I have really wanted is for someone to come along and tell me how to do it. At least that way I could give it a try and see what works for me. Until very recently, I had no idea how to even start.
Well, for the price of a cup of coffee I’ve been saved. I’m a member of a writing community called “Writer Unboxed” that I link to on Twitter and Facebook. Recently there was a discussion on their Facebook page about whether it was harder to start your novel or to finish it. I waded in with my ‘enthusiastic start but struggled to finish’ woes: I specifically mentioned that I had no idea what to do when trying to revise my, now written, novel.
I was advised to seek out a very simple e-book called ‘Rock your Revisions‘: A simple system for revising your novel, written by Cathy Yardley. She also has an excellent website and blog called ‘Rock your Writing‘.
Reading this very simple advisory book was like sitting down with Cathy after buying her a cup of coffee and being told the secret to the Universe. All of a sudden I understand how to revise my novel. She has provided me with a instruction manual of how to approach revisions, along with some very useful explanations of key aspects of novel-writing and character-building. I would certainly recommend this very reasonably priced book for anyone struggling to understand how to revise and edit their, seemingly unwieldy, novel.
As a result of said book, I now feel that I have a chance to make my novel work. Not just that. I think I might, – with lots of time and hard work (which, let’s face it, is what the actual writing part was too; so I’m no longer daunted by that) – I might, be able to write that novel that not just has potential, but IS what I have always dreamed of.
So start the revisions: and I’m going to rock them. (Thanks, Cathy!)