I Better Do It Again*

revisingWriting a draft of a novel is only the first step in getting that novel finished. The next step – and it can be a difficult one – is revising. That’s the part where, as Faulkner said, you have to kill your darlings. Sometimes major plot points are changed, characters added or removed, and more. And that’s not to mention the myriad points of grammar and other editing that have to get done.

Crime writer and fellow blogger Rebecca Bradley has a terrific feature on revision, ‘What’s Your Revision Process Like,’ and I am honoured and excited to have been invited to her blog as a part of that feature.

Please come pay me a visit on Rebecca’s blog, where I’ll be talking about how I revise. And as you’ll be there anyway, do check out her terrific site. You’ll find useful and interesting information for crime writers, and you’ll get the chance to try Rebecca’s own crime fiction, Shallow Waters and Made to be Broken, featuring DI Hannah Robbins, and Three Weeks Dead, featuring DC Sally Poynter. You don’t want to miss these fine crime stories!




*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Kinks’ Do it Again.


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22 responses to “I Better Do It Again*

  1. Tim

    I’m off to read the linked material. But first I will make an observation about contemporary writing: where have the editors gone? Now let me explain. I see much evidence in recent decades that good editors (i.e., like Max Perkins for Hemingway and Fitzgerald) have long ago disappeared from the publishing business. Why do they not exist? What are your experiences with and POVs regarding editors?

    • You raise an interesting question, Tim.I think editing is vital, and a skilled editor is worth her or his weight in gold. It’s very hard for authors to see their work objectively. And, even if they could, no-one’s perfect. Another pair of eyes is always useful. And a good editor will support the authors work, but still be completely honest.

      • So true, Margot. I’d be lost without my editor. She sees things I can’t, because I’m too close to the story, and I think that happens a lot with writers. No one can see their own work like others do. I saw that you were featured today. Looking forward to reading the post. But first, Crime Fiction News Break. Yay!

        • A good editor is worth her or his weight in gold, Sue, that’s what I think. And you’re right. Authors can never really see their own work objectively. For that, you need another pair of eyes – at least one. And thanks for planning to stop over at Rebecca’s blog. I think her blog’s fantsatic.

    • Tim, it appears that Max Perkins took his time and cared for the writers he worked with, encouraging them and helping to make the best possible book and writers he could make. Of course sells and money were important but today it seems to be the main priority and as a writer I NEED an editor who cares about my work the way I do and will use every possible means and all his energy to make the work the best it can be as I use all my energy and means as I do.

  2. Great interview, Margot! Writing the first draft of a novel is bad enough, revising it, sometimes more than once, sounds downright scary too me.

    • Thank you, Prashant. I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview. Rebecca is a wonderful host! Revising does take a lot of work, and it can be difficult. But in the end, the final product is almost always a lot better, and that makes it worth the effort.

  3. I’m working on a suspense short story at the moment and I’ve been pretty terrified at my first draft because while it’s probably okay, I’ve been tempted to revise and revise as I go along. I’m such a perfectionist so it’s like I expect the first draft to be perfect and pure gold. But I have to tell myself that the rough draft is a “rough” copy. It’s not suppose to be perfect and a first draft isn’t writing. Writing is rewriting and that’s how all the books that I see in the book is the result of — not a first draft. I’ve learned that for me I can’t heavily revise as I go along because that is what will keep me from finishing it and that’s what has kept me finishing all my other stories. And I don’t want to be one of those writers who always wrote but never finished.

    • Thanks for sharing your insights, Sbrnseay1. I think that’s what holds back a lot of authors, actually. They don’t accept a first draft for what it is – a draft. You can’t revise and make a really well-written story until you have a story in the first place. So it makes a lot of sense, really to just write the story. Then, later, you’ll go back and change and revise. As you say, first drafts are not supposed to be perfect. They’re your opportunity to get your ideas down. The rest – refining, polishing, fixing, editing, and so on – will come later.

      • With Agatha Christie, one of my favorite mystery writers, I have the two editions of John Curran’s volumes that covers Agatha Christie’s notebooks, her plans and notes for her stories but what I would love to see if a first draft of her stories and compare them to the final version and see how much editing she’s done. I don’t know why I keep thinking that Christie didn’t edit much between her first drafts and her final.

        • I don’t know if she did or didn’t, Sbrnseay1, but I do know exactly what you mean. I’d love to see a first draft of one of her stories, too. I know that The Mysterious Affair at Styles was rejected several times before it was finally revised and picked up, and history made. But I don’t know exactly what Christie’s revising habits were. It’d be nice to know that she was as human as the rest of us, and needed to edit and so on.

  4. And then there was Rex Stout who I read plotted in his head and than sat down at his typewriter and typed his Nero Wolfe stories and delivered them to the publisher.

  5. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I hope that you all don’t mind me sharing, but Margot posts some of the most fascinating articles that I read here….enjoy

  6. Pingback: Writing Links in the 3s and 6…2/6/17 – Where Genres Collide

  7. Very interesting. I particularly appreciated learning that in revising you try to pretend it’s someone else’s work. Reading this post was also comforting that we (us writers) are all in the same boat with very similar challenges. Good luck with your revisions, Margot and thanks Rebecca for this informative post.

    • Thanks, Carol – very much – on all counts. I agree that it’s nice to know that we’re not in this alone. All writers face very similar struggle, and it’s good to learn how others manage things. Glad you enjoyed the interview. Rebecca’s a fabulous host.

  8. All very interesting. I recently saw Genius, a fictionalized version of Maxwell Perkins’ relationship with Thomas Wolfe. A very interesting film for any writer I think.

  9. Thanks for sharing this post, Margot (and please forgive my tardiness – I’m first drafting at the minute and it makes everything else quite difficult to keep up with!) It was great to have you on the blog. x

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