How to Revise Wrong, in 3 Easy Steps

And now that we’ve plotted wrong, characterized wrong, and written wrong. . .let’s talk about how to sit down with that baby and revise it wrong.

  1. Be obsessed with letting your language ‘breathe’

  2. This is code for: “Be unwilling to revise anything but inexcusable errors and typos.” This is because you must trust, you must trust in the process (didn’t your Discount Life Coach tell you that only last week?), you must understand that those words in that order in those sentences came out of you by Divine Inspiration and cannot be tampered with without losing their ‘freshness’ and ‘spark.’

    ‘Freshness’ and ‘spark’ being code for: “Accidentally getting it right.” Because you don’t actually have a clue what you’re doing.

    Experience? Practice? Education? Time-tested techniques for shaping, honing, polishing written language? What do you think you are, a buffing wheel?

    Don’t waste your time on rewriting stuff you’ve already written, whatever you do. Think about how many more books you could publish if you stopped worrying about how the last one turned out and got busy on the next. You’d be a millionaire in no time!

    This is why so many people are self-publishing books these days with titles like God Wants You to Write.

  3. Look for guidance only from peers on unsupervised critique forums

  4. Because, as we all know, money always flows toward the writer. So be sure to get everything you need to become a successful author for nothing, as a fool and their money are soon parted.

    At least you hope so. After all, you’re counting on lots and lots of fools out there with lots and lots of money to buy this book you’re accidentally writing in spite of yourself.

  5. Be correct that your peers have little to teach you

    Well, it’s true.

    Which is why it’s so easy to dismiss them as callow unbelievers if they actually suggest revisions. Or—heaven forbid—going back to the drawingboard.

    The problem is that your peers don’t know any more about this work than you do. So their opinions, no matter how well-meaning, can’t possibly be any more than amateurs’ surface reactions to a deep, complex, multifaceted craft no one has ever completely mastered before they died. Not even Stieg Larsson.

    The truth is that you’re probably an unrecognized genius—that’s why your critiquers misunderstand you. I mean, what expertise are they going to use to recognize you with? They’re a bunch of amateurs.

    Except the ones who are even more amateur than you are, of course. Those guys love you!

You are the only real authority on your own work, unlike all those OCD nitpickers who style themselves ‘experts.’ (Good thing publishers have unloaded most of them.) Publishers are a big, shiny store window. You are a customer.

And the customer is always right.

I only know this stuff because I’ve been there.