As a writer, revision has never been my strong point. I don’t think I ever heard the word “revision” until I was training to become a teacher and learned about the writing process. In high school and college, I received notes to address in my writing from the teacher (usually in red ink) and I did what she wanted—and I felt proud of myself for pleasing the teacher. That wasn’t—and isn’t—revision, but I didn’t know that at the time.
I’ve struggled with revision as a result in my short fiction writing. I’ve been reading through Gardner’s The Art of Fiction and thinking about how to apply some of his thinking to my revision process, particularly his thoughts on sentence construction and rhythm. I think I may have come upon a technique that is helping me as I edit and revise my upcoming ebook collection Powerless: Stories.
As I go through the text, I isolate a paragraph or, if the paragraph is super short, a small section by hitting “Return” several times before and after the segment. This makes me focus just on the section because it is the only thing I can see on the screen. The isolation has helped me concentrate more on the language I’m using and apply some of the lessons from Gardner. I can see a difference already in making my prose sound smoother.
I’m not sure why the isolation is so important in my process. Perhaps because the urge to just read on gets put off because there’s nothing else to read on to—at least right there on the screen. It changes my task from reading to revising by working in this piecemeal way. I doubt this addresses the totality of my revision process—or lack thereof. But, at least it is a way for me to start actually revising my work.