Revision seems so simple when you first think about it. Take that awkward sounding sentence and make it not sound awkward. The three times my MC has rolled their eyes in that one scene? Make it one. Need to add some tension? Kill someone.
But revision isn’t as easy as you first think it is.
The most difficult part for me has been rereading the same chapters over and over again. After a while, the story becomes repetitive. It doesn’t seem fresh and exciting anymore. And I tend to skip words (and often entire paragraphs,) because I already know what they’re going to say. This, of course, leads to a very basic revised draft when it probably needs an in depth one. This is why I revise every chapter twice on paper, and then a third time when I transfer to my laptop. If I missed something the first time, chances are I won’t miss them a second or third.
Your story seems boring/predictable because you wrote it- because you’ve read it so many times. But don’t worry- it’s better than you think.
It’s also natural to become downcast about your writing. The more drafts you go through, the more you doubt how well you wrote the novel in the first place. You’ll always spot that grammar mistake, or the weird sounding sentence or discover a plot hole that you swear wasn’t there before and ask yourself ‘can I actually write?’ The answer is yes, you can. You just wrote a whole novel. But the point of revision is to rework and refine those awkward parts. So don’t get too discouraged if your character takes off the same jacket three times in one scene. It’s all a natural part of the writing process.
Just remember that every published author has been through revision Hell. They made it- so can you.
Having to make so many changes is one thing that always knocks my confidence. But I’m not a very dedicated planner, so it makes sense that what I think is a clear, cohesive plot turns out to be a somewhat jumbled mess. It’s hard to cut paragraphs and scenes, or even entire chapters. Especially when there’s a really good couple of lines that won’t make sense in your new vision. It’s even worse if you’ve revised those parts in the past. This is why it’s important to get some really good beta readers, or a critique partner. They can help you uncover what works and what doesn’t. It’s necessary in order to make your novel the best it can be.
Don’t delete what you cut. Instead, save it all into a separate folder. You never know what you might be able to use in a newer version.
Rewriting something you’ve already rewritten three times can certainly make you lose motivation. Major rewrites are especially difficult. It’s not just changing the wording; it’s having to change entire conversations, plot points and character development- sometimes more than once. It feels like you’re at those first stages once again, having to write a story from scratch. So far I’ve reworked the overall plot of Nephilim twice- two major rewrites in one year. And the daunting task is finally taking it’s toll.
I’m serious about getting my novel published one day. I wanted to start querying this September, but a final beta read has me re-plotting large amounts of my novel once again. I’m back, cutting whole scenes and adding new ones. And man, has it put a damper on my motivation.
It hasn’t returned. The massive undertaking of rewrites, plus working through a third trimester (with recently diagnosed iron deficiency, yay,) has put me off doing any revision, despite really wanting to.
I can’t say I have any great hints or tips to overcoming the mental difficulties of revision. The reasons we struggle are different for everyone. We all face different issues and challenges and we’ll overcome them in different ways. In the end, it’s all down to you and your resolve. Just know that you don’t need to rush through it.
Take as long as you need to work through all the changes you need to make, and keep a strong, open mind especially when it comes to cuts.
Everything will fall into place in the end. You just need to keep working at it.
Good thoughts and happy writing