Lance Larsen Tip #4: Revise yourself to Eloquence

I can’t sleep. It’s 4:19 am.

I think it’s because of the pounds of food I ate at the Olive Garden last night. Or the tight pants I sleep in. I can’t decide. At least I’ll get to watch the dangerous happenings in my neighborhood that occur at this time of night.

Now, for tip #4: Revise yourself to eloquence.

If you’ll remember, the last tip was to let the writing lead you. To let go of your grip on the narrative and allow it to breathe. Allow it to take you where it needs to go.

This tip is the opposite. You have to take back control (once the first draft is finished) and shape it into something beautiful.

Lance says: “Just as you must be willing to lower your standards, at first, and write sloppily and inventively, not knowing what you will produce, you must at a later stage step in and revise without mercy.”

You have to be ruthless. You have to be honest. You have to allow your critical eye (and other’s critical eye) to step in and push you to make the book the piece that it could be.

We’ve talked about this before. Every part of the writing process is a process. It takes time, patience and discipline.

I love revision. It is painful but it’s worth it.

One time an editor told me I needed to take out two characters. Two BIG characters. I was like, uh, say what? I need those people. But as I thought about it, and read and reread, I realized that they weren’t as integral to the story as I thought. Of course once I took them out, every other scene in the book needed to change. And I had no middle to my book. I basically had to rewrite the whole thing. I complained. I cried. I ate. But in the end, after hours of work, the book was better.

We should never ever shy away from revision. From knocking things about. From working our bums off.

Annie Dillard said:

At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then-and only then-it is handed to you.

Are you searching? Are your breaking your heart? Your back? And most importantly, your brain? Are you brave enough to tear apart your precious work of art in order to let it become what it has the potential to become?


Filed under Ann Dee, Revision, writing process

5 responses to “Lance Larsen Tip #4: Revise yourself to Eloquence

  1. Robin Johnson

    Carol and Ann Dee, thank you for putting this marathon together! Olive Garden was so fun (and delicious!) last night. I loved hearing everyone’s stories and everything they accomplished. It’s really inspiring. Also, I love these tips from Lance Larson. They are so practical, which is something I need more of.

  2. Rebecca Birkin

    Ouch. This is so true. I hate the tearing things apart part, but it’s so important.

  3. sueburton

    Not sure if I’m breaking yet, but I eat, so that’s a sign I’m on the right track.

    Another thank you from me for last night’s activity! It was wonderful.

  4. James NJ

    Darn. The marathon dinner sounded great. I had rice and ketchup, and I liked it. Really. That’s what I get for not doing marathons though. You are all awesome! It’s been fun reading about your upcoming books Carol and company. You are the best teacher, Carol, but I like reading Ann Dee’s page more for some reason… Ha. No, I’m kidding. Hope to see you all again sometime. It was fun.


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