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The Art of Revision

By Meagan Jones

The “Writer’s Workshop” blog posts are meant to be a collage of writer’s tips, tricks, and strategies, including the first steps to publishing, writing prompts, strategies for writer’s block, and a general jumble of ideas to help you in your quest to create and publish.


She crosses out a paragraph. It is good writing – she thinks so herself – yet it is unnecessary. It doesn’t fit with the work. It is out of place. It doesn’t sound right.

She peruses over the rest of the manuscript, tapping the pages absentmindedly with her pen. That piece of dialogue on the third page, she realizes, sounds awkward. She writes a note to herself to rewrite it. Then she reads her work out loud.

“Okay,” she says, “Time to type it again.”


Workshops, self-critique, and revision go hand-in-hand. Once you’ve gotten your work self-critiqued and/or workshopped, it’s time for the nitty gritty to go down with your piece, no matter if it’s a poem, fiction story, nonfiction essay, or dramatic work.

The actual revision process depends heavily on the workshops and self-critique. With workshops, it is possible to get conflicting ideas, and even when you do your own self-critique, there’s still more. It is in the revision and editing process when you decide which roads to take for your piece. One piece of advice can land you in a totally different place than another piece. Someone may like one part of your work for one reason, and another person may dislike it for that very same reason. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what to do.

You are the writer. You have the final say (unless you’re participating in a group project, or working on a screenplay – that’s another matter).

Revision is different than editing. Editing a piece is really just working on fixing the grammar and things like that. I consider revision to be still in the beginning stages of the piece. Editing is reserved for the very end. The reason I consider revision to happen in the beginning stages of the piece is because revision can often change the entire meaning of the entire thing. You can add many things that aren’t there before, or get rid of something that might’ve been important in a previous draft, but is unnecessary now. Editing just makes it flow better.

I’ve often added entire paragraphs or deleted paragraphs in a revision. I’ve added symbols that weren’t there before. I’ve condensed characters, changed the plot. And when working a revision, it was important for me to look at the work as I would when self-critiquing. There’s one thing I keep in mind throughout the whole process of editing, and that is the fact that:


You have no obligation to the past you to keep anything the same.

So some advice:

    • Tear apart your piece.
    • Follow whatever advice you want.
    • Do whatever you want.
    • And have fun with it.
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