Friday, July 27, 2012

Suspension of Disbelief When Revising A Novel

Here’s the thing, when you’re sewing, when the dress has pieces sewn on wrong (such as the sleeves are inside out, and the neck facing is on backwards and you forgot one of the darts in the front), what you’ve got still looks more like a dress than it does after you rip the pieces apart and start planning the reconstruction.

Even though, by taking the never-gonna-be-a-dress, inside-out-sleeves garment apart, you have, in fact, moved one step closer to finishing the dress of your dreams.

And this, ladies and gents, is where I am with my revision. I have written some new chapters that I love and eliminated some parts that don’t work, but in order to integrate the new and fix the transitions where the old used to be, I had to do the equivalent of a whole hell of a lot of seam ripping.

And this is the part where suspension of disbelief comes in. Or some metaphorical variant thereof. As in, belieeeeeeeeeve or Tinkerbell falls from the sky and dies, writhing, on your keyboard.

That would be my keyboard.

(It wouldn’t be a mixed metaphor if I introduced The Little Engine That Could here, right, as long as Tinkerbell was passed out in one of the boxcars?)

You have to believe that this thing with the many improved moving parts can, in fact, be put together again in a new, improved version. That new seams can bind together all the old and new and radically overhauled parts, and that the sum of those parts will be, well, seamless. And also a book.


  1. Love this analogy, Ann. I think part of what's holding me back on my current revisions is that fear of ripping so many seams that I may not be able to figure out how to make the story whole again. Guess I just need more faith in the process. Love your last paragraph here. Thanks.

  2. Dear Ruth,
    Thank you! What I didn't mention, metaphor-wise, is that in junior high, when home ec. still existed, I had to stay home the day we modeled the dresses we'd sewn due to the fact that the pieces of mine had unraveled to such an alarming extent before being put together that my dress was now the size of an undershirt. I cannot tell you how much I hope this has no relevance to my current rewrite. Good luck with yours!

  3. I'm there with ya, Ann. Right now, I'm going through the hardcore revision phase of my manuscript, and sometimes after taking "this and that" out, I feel completely numb, wondering "How can I possibly fix this now?" LOL! Best thing that usually works for me is to not dwell on it and go forward, full steam ahead! :P

  4. I'm revising right now too, so your post really resonated with me. I worry that I'll lose track of what I've cut and what I've changed, leaving a big gap somewhere. Then I'll have to read the whole thing for what feels like the one-thousandth time! Guess I just need to keep repeating, "I think I can. I think I can" if I'm ever going to make it over this mountain.
    FYI: I found your blog through LinkedIn's "Book Marketing / Do You Have a Blog?" group.

  5. Hi Raphyel and Sandy,
    I'm still right here with you! Which is to say, still revising. I'm so glad you found my blog.