Revision Gurus

by Amber Keyser
Published on: November 12, 2013
Comments: 1 Comment

Revision is hard for me.

I worry myself in circles about the right way to reorganize plot points.  My stomach knots as I scissor my manuscript to pieces and tape it back together.

Voice haunts me.  I will stare at a sentence for many minutes, knowing it is not right but clueless about how to make it right.

I agonize over every sentence, rearranging words, substituting images, deleting.  The word count hardly changes, but slowly, subtly, change is coming.

I am learning to embrace revision because of the way it makes the work better.  Today is my paean in praise of Revision Gurus–because that’s what the Scrivas are to me.

I just finished reading Scriva Ruth‘s newest novel, THE NINTH DAY (Ooligan Press, 2013).  Now let me clarify, I have read this story before multiple times, but today I read it within a glossy cover.  Published.  Complete.  And…

Wow!  I kept chuckling to myself that I couldn’t put the book down even though I already knew what was going to happen thanks to my many reads of early drafts.

I already loved this book, but what I could appreciate this time through was the absolute mastery of Ruth’s revision.  I could see the delicate way she’d laid the groundwork for each storyline so that every action and reaction seemed “real.”  She brought me along on a journey of self-discovery that was both surprising and utterly believable.  Like a Cirque du Soleil performer, Ruth never lost her balance or let me, her reader, fall.

As much as I might dread revision, I want to be Ruth’s padawan.  I want to learn at her feet. I want to make my story sing like Hope’s does!


The Ninth Day

Berkeley, California, 1964. While the Free Speech Movement rages, Hope, a shy, stuttering, teen scarred by an accidental LSD trip, plans to keep a low profile. Risk compounds reticence when she meets a time-traveler who claims that Hope must find a way to stop a father from killing his newborn son in 11th century Paris.

“The story is riveting… and, speaking as someone who was arrested in the Free Speech Movement, the Berkeley sections feel true and authentic.”

—Margot Adler, NPR correspondent

“Reading this book… [reveals] constellations rich with story, myth, and magic.”

—Jen Violi, author of Putting Makeup on Dead People


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1 Comment - Leave a comment
  1. ScrivaRuth says:

    Good gracious, Amber, this is such high praise from you, whom I consider a master writer. I’ve learned so much from your critiques–and I plow all that back into the manuscript. Thank you! And here’s to Viva Scriva!

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