3. Feedback & Revision
(ix) AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
When I revise, there are always some areas for improvement, even if no one has identified a problem. Going through the novel from first page to last, I take these improvements in along the way.
For a start—there’s the start. The original version was a stab in the dark. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I know where everything’s going, I can see exactly what needs setting up when. The opening fifty pages of a novel are crucial, and most writers I know expect to re-work and improve them.
Then there are the passages of action. I see ways of making the sequence of movements cleaner and stronger, so that the reader can really see them. Of revisions that I do off my own bat, I probably revise action more than anything else.
With passages of description, as when describing a setting, my revision is mostly trimming. I’ve almost always used too many words and thrown in too many details. Working over it again, I pare description back to the essentials.
As for dialogue, well, it’s either right or it isn’t. No use fiddling about with small improvements. If I need to revise dialogue, I set the old passage aside and write through in a flow, as if for the first time. I’m not a fast writer generally, but dialogue has to be written fast and continuously.
Action, setting and dialogue are three of the four Elements in the next section.