Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Romance Author Julia London Reveals Why Revisions Make Her Mad

Today we welcome Julia London, New York Times and USA Today's Bestselling Author to discuss the daunting and sometimes painful process of revisions. Julia is not only a best selling author of more than twenty romantic fiction novels but also a  popular historical romance series. In addition, she had written several contemporary women’s fiction novels with strong romantic elements, isuch as Summer of Two Wishes, One Season of Sunshine, and Light at Winter’s End.

Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a four-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. She lives in Round Rock, Texas, with her husband.
 One lucky commenter will receive a copy of her latest release, The Year of Living Scandalously!

Revisions Make Me Mad
Seems like writers either love revisions or hate them. I have never known a writer who was ambivalent about them. Are you? I have writer friends who believe that the revision process is where they actually write the book, and that everything that has gone before was merely getting a framework on paper. I know other writers who labor over the first draft of a book and get it as near to perfect as possible, so that when asked to revise something, they take umbrage.

I used to like revisions. When I first started publishing, I learned a lot from the revision process about the construction of books, pacing, and dialogue. I have always written drafts that I thought were complete, and as a baby writer, I was eager to see what a fresh pair of eyes thought was missing or needed to be restructured. I can honestly say that I have never had an editor that did not improve my book.
But then I grew up from baby author to a full-fledged, published -a-bunch-of-books author, and now I don’t like revisions. Not because I find them any less helpful; nothing could be further from the truth. Every revision to my manuscript improves it. I don’t like them because I try to improve with each book, but I still miss things, I still learn how I could improve things, and I grow impatient with me. I am no longer eager to find out what an editor thinks would make the book better. Now, I am eager to see what what I should have caught and didn’t. Bah, humbug.

I have, however, learned some new techniques in constructing my books because of revisions. I now start a draft with the framework. I don’t try and make the book perfect in the first draft like I used to do. I try to make sure I get all the elements down. And then I go through and do my own set of revisions. I let myself have it. I write things like “duh” and “already said at least 5 mil times,” and “good stuff—who wrote it?” Haha. I try to be that fresh reader and see what is missing, what needs to be changed, what doesn’t fit. It’s like working on a giant floor puzzle. Sometimes the pieces are big and easy to fit together, and sometimes, there are a million little pieces that all look alike and I can’t figure out where to fit anything. One of these days, I will get it right.

Until that day comes, however, revisions are a necessary evil in my line of work.

 How do you feel about revisions? Are you good at them? Would you rather slit your wrists then go back to the book you’ve been writing forever and change it One. More. Time? Would you rather revise than draft?

If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Year of Living Scandalously by Julia London, please click comments below and join in the conversation (with your email, example Iwanttowin (at) Ilovebooks (dot) com) . The winner will be drawn on Friday!

Want to know more about Julia and her books? Visit


Rachel said...

I'm okay with revisions at the moment. They're a huge part in becoming a better writer, which is what we all aim for, right?


Anonymous said...

When do you stop? I've revised so much, I don't recognize the story any longer!

Ruby Johnson said...

Thanks for showing how you do revisions. You're right. A fresh set of eyes help you see the areas needing revision. I actually took a workshop once on how to go scene by scene and revise. I should have made a checklist. The workshop is long since lost in my files!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Julia, whatever you do works, and I love your books! For myself, I am an endless editor and eventually have to stop trying to make the work "Perfect" and send it off. I like your idea of the framework and then reading as if you hadn't seen it before.

Cathy Shouse said...


It's interesting to see how your feelings have changed about revisions.

I'm in the middle of a terribly messy revision right now. Daily, I consider abandoning it and going on to something else. Actually, I've done that numerous times and keep coming back to this story. So, I think I need to finish it. I've edited it--more like gutted and rewritten it- so many times that I'm struggling to figure out which version of parts of it to keep.

When is revising simply procrastinating?

Would love to win a book cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

Jerrie Alexander said...

Julia, my editor is shooting for November 5th to have my first ever edits/revisions in my mailbox. I revise and revise a lot before submitting, so I'm curious how this first time will go. Will it be painful or just a few changes needed? Obviously, I'm on pins and needles. (Pardon the cliche)

Ashley Kath-Bilsky said...

Julia, I enjoyed your post very much. Alas, I'm still at that stage where I think every word, every line has to be perfect in the draft. I also print out each chapter because I tend to miss things on the computer screen. I just have this thing about moving forward with the book unless I am completely satisfied with what I have written so far. Not the most practical method I guess, but I'm also fortunate to have two wonderful critique partners who catch things I don't, and who will tell me honestly if something is missing. ~ Ashley

Julia London said...

Hello everyone, and thank you for having me here today!

How do I know when to stop revising? Usually the deadline tells me when. I have a book due on Friday. I would love, love, love to have another chance to revise. Unfortunately, I don't have time to do that.

SusieSheehey said...

And the winner of a copy of The Year of Living Scandalously from Julia London is......

Cathy Shouse!!!!

Congrats, Cathy! Expect an email from us shortly to get your information.

Thanks again everyone! And a huge thank you to Julia!!

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