Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Revision

When I started this little trip through the revision process I tried to separate the process of editing from revising but then I realized for me it didn't matter. For today's post I decided I would look at the etymology of both words - after all why do an abcedaria and not do that!

1610s, "act of revising," from French révision, from Late Latin revisionem (nominative revisio) "a seeing again,"

edit (v.) 
1791, "to publish," perhaps a back-formation from editor, or from French éditer (itself a back-formation from édition) or from Latin editus, past participle of edere "give out, put out, publish" (see edition). Meaning "to supervise for publication" is from 1793. Meaning "make revisions to a manuscript, etc.," is from 1885. Related: Edited;editing. As a noun, by 1960, "an act of editing." 

So...as I suspected it really means the same thing. I like the word 'revision' more than 'edit' however. Why? Because it means 'a seeing again' and it includes the word vision which I think a writer can look at in two ways. The first way is to look with your eyes or fresh eyes (someone else's ore yours after a break) at your manuscript - really see again. The second is to re -Vision. When we write our first quick drafts we are telling ourselves the story. It is raw and choppy and messy and lovely. When we revise we are refining the story for others. We know what it is now and we want to make sure it is as clear on the page as it is in our mind. We need to touch into our early vision for it. For my YA manuscript 'Bright Angel' I want the reader to understand the relationship between a confused rebel teen girl and an old woman. When I wrote the story initially I thought it was about the mother - then I realized it was about the daughter and a distant relative of the mother. I have to look at the whole story with that in mind.   I also need to pay attention to different elements than I did when I was getting the story down - themes that appear - symbols - running metaphors and so forth. Does everything in my manuscript add to the over-all vision that I now hold of it? It's like a garden perhaps - the prairie grasses might be lovely but do they suit a garden that has an English cottage feel?

So - what do you think of revising from a revisionary point of view? And here is a photo of my dear Daddio who in his role as a public relations officer with the RCAF did a lot of editing! He used to edit pieces in his mind to go to sleep....


Margot Kinberg said...

Love that 'photo, Jan! And you ask a good question about editing and revising. To me, they always do imply two different ways of looking at a manuscript. One (editing) is the attention to small detail (like spelling, grammar and the like). It's absolutely necessary, but you can lose the overall sense of the story. The other is more creative, and lets you get a sense of the whole story. There is one standard way to spell many words, etc., but there isn't one standard way to tell a story. Let the creative juices flow!

Susan Scott said...

I love that about revising, re-vision, seeing with new eyes. And the story that I'm imagining about the young rebel girl and the old woman ...
Thanks Jan for sharing, also for the photo of your Dad!