I tend to compare novel revision to adding extra layers of paint.  A person paints a surface, waits several hours, then goes back to it and adds a second (or third) coat of paint.  Having recently done a spot of painting, I can appreciate the analogy far more than before.  In fact, I would say that the writing process I enjoy the  most is revision, the filling in gaps with the paint brush.

Revision allows a writer to pause and bring out distinctive character traits, dialect voices and scene setting.  It enables a writer to develop stronger images and to deal with typing and grammatical errors.  I tend to scribble notes with a pen when I’m revising. 

Of course, I enjoy writing fresh material, but I find revision less drawn out and tiring.   Today, I edited a chapter of 2,000 words, then went on to write approximately 600 new words.


8 thoughts on “Novel Writing and Revision: Like A Coat Of Paint

  1. Hi,

    I like your “painting” metaphor!

    I, too, like rewriting – probably even more than the writing itself. Many people seem to think that it’s a mechanical, not a creative, process. But it’s when revising a page of rough text that I feel most creative inside.

  2. Hi Harvey,

    Thanks for your comment. I fully agree. I think a lot of writers prefer the revision process. Just about to take a look at your site now.



  3. It does, Lawrence, you are so right, but I have never experienced that before this novel! I love the editing and getting to know my characters so much deeper.
    Good luck with it all, I hope it keeps going this way for you.

  4. Thanks, Jenni. I’m at the crisis stage of the novel now and it seems to be going really well. I’m enjoing it very much. My main antagonist seems to be getting geared up for action.

    I hope all is going well with your writing.



  5. Sometimes I think of it as portrait painting. First I sketch the bare essentials of my scene or chapter, then I start filling in the color (thoughts/description), then I polish it to a fine sheen.

    Lovely post, Lawrence!

  6. It is a valid analogy. But I’ve often read on blogs or heard from other writers the tendency to keep putting coat after coat upon the wall, to carry forth with the analogy.
    At what point are there too many revsiions and edits? At what point is it all just a thick glob of goo instead of a smooth color, elaborating itself into the dynamic of the room?
    When painting, is it not suitable to stand back from the work and review it in all kinds of light, at all times of day? I have strayed, as I have gotten older, from the Flaubert methodolgy of the perfect word in the perfect place and am more inclined toward the Kerouac technique of a viscious propulsion of feeling and emotion. Of course, I am neither. I am somewhere in between.
    The question is: when is the color saturation complete; when is the texturing suitable for the feeling of the room?

  7. Good question, tikiman. I don’t know. I suppose I’m not really looking for perfection in my story, more a logic to the central plot that was lacking before, so it would make sense for me to pay particular attention to the second half of the story (i.e. an extra coat of paint, maybe two). However, I have no plans to revise the first half of the story, as I feel tinkering around with it further would cause it to become “gooey”.

    Hope all is going well with your writing,


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