Jerome Stern wrote in his time-honored tome on creative writing, Making Shapely Fiction, that, "a story that appears full-blown, finished, and completely realized in its first draft is rarer than the ninety-yard pass, the hole-in-one, or the sixty-foot basket....for writers the general rule is revision."
In today's world of flash fiction, six-second videos, and 140 character limitations, revisions can seem outdated. Got a cell phone? You're a writer. Have 100 followers reading about your love for corn-based foods? You're a blogger. It seems in today's world of quick hits, the lost art of editing can be, well, lost.
Revisions are the heart and soul of a story. Yes, the first blush of inspiration can be intoxicating. But even Mozart had lots of dark, inky blobs on his parchment. Because even geniuses don’t get it right on the first try. In fact, we believe that honing the manuscript, digging into the details, removing unneeded adverbs, and adding that essential detail to your character’s backstory… are what will make your writing fall into melodic perfection.
Mr. Stern goes on to encourage writers not to get hung up on first-draft ideas, but also not to mercilessly cut passages that may be their freshest just because they are weird. Revisions can take a story sideways, or up, down, or forward. You may end up with a completely different story than you started with. This can sometimes freak writers out, but we say revisions are the layers on your cake, the cherry on your sundae, and the gravy for your biscuits.
Allow revising your manuscript to be progressive, but know when to call it quits. Once you’ve taken the story as far as it can go at this moment in time – it could be one revision or six – it is time to let your creation live on its own. Pull the plug and let it sing. Like Mozart, you’ll eventually hit all the right notes.