On Finishing – The Virtue of Revision


I finished the novella today. Took far longer than I anticipated, despite the fairly productive first ten days. I managed to get sick in the middle of it all, and went onto relief (which means I get punted around all the different ambulance stations in the area), so that took up quite a lot of effort and time. Plus I was on proper night shift for the first time in ages, and it pretty much slayed me (do people still say slayed? You would think at 23 that I wouldn’t be feeling that old, but sometimes I have people still in school as patients, and god do I feel old then).

Anyway. Real Life conspired against me, and by the time I actually got around to writing again, I didn’t want to finish the thing.

Why? Because I knew how it would end. This is an issue of mine, and a reason I don’t plot things out before hand. Also, I have a feeling that the motivations behind my main antagonist are not that neatly sketched out. I could do a lot more with more space, but I would need new characters and setting for that, and I’d be writing a novel, not a novella.

Also, I was making up the detail of the climax as I went along, so that didn’t help. There were bits that I wasn’t sure would work. But I did need to finish the thing (momentum generally helps push me through the whole “but I know how it ends now” block). So I finished it.

But how to deal with all these issues? How to make everything gel together on the page?

Well, that’s what revision is for basically. One of the main reasons behind there being detail issues in endings, or having endings that don’t make sense is that you can’t always see the relationship between your climax and what came before. So I have a feeling I’ll have to revise the detail of story to make the ending fit, but that’s doable. I can foreshadow in reverse.

To put it simply – If I use a gun to shoot someone and the gun hasn’t been in the cupboard the whole time? Well I can damn well go back and plant it there if I want to. Problem solved. And I’ve actually finished the thing, which wouldn’t have happened if I’d continually stopped to fret over possible inconsistencies.

This is also the point at which I point out that I am not a plotter. I enjoy revision because I can go and make things make sense. I have a whole schedule of revisions – an order in which I correct things. I have a friend that would go insane if she wrote on knowing something was wrong.

But revision man, revision is awesome. Especially for endings that you’re making up on the fly.

Picture taken from Flickr, under creative commons, attributed to Mikko Luntiala


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