Learning the Art of Revision

Note:  This makes references to the previous post about ‘The Muse and the Editor’, and is essentially ‘Part 2’ of that discussion.

It’s sometimes said that half of the art of writing is the art of revision.  When it comes to the quality and originality of what your muse brings to you, I think there may be a certain amount of ‘talent’ that you either have or don’t have.  But developing a good editor is primarily a matter of hard work and acquiring the necessary skills.  You can learn to revise–and to be an accomplished wordsmith, you must learn to revise.

There are plenty of myths and pieces of misinformation floating around about the craft of writing.  One over-quoted phrase is “Kill your darlings”, which is attributed to William Faulkner–though he may have borrowed it from another source–and which has been echoed emphatically by Steven King.  It’s one of those things some writers bandy about as if they feel that saying it shows how mature and sophisticated they are.  But in reality it has limited application and is too often misinterpreted. What I dislike most about it is that it implies that writers can’t learn to appraise their own work (although that may not have been the original intent at all).  If that were true, they could never learn to edit their own work, which, of course, is nonsense. Continue reading