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Do you understand your own story? Deep Revision: Part 1. | Sarah Selecky.

This is one of the great anxieties of writing fiction: you can only know your story after you’ve written it. If you write self-consciously, you defeat the creative act (Ray Bradbury said that). Therefore, your first draft holds all sorts of significance you don’t know consciously, yet.

Now that you’ve written it, you get to find out what your story really IS.

And that’s the first thing you need to know, because you don’t want to revise what you think you wrote. You want to approach your draft with curiosity – see what you’ve actually written, first, and what it might be telling you.

Allow yourself to be surprised by yourself.

It might seem dismaying that you should see what your story is about only after you have written it. Try it; you’ll like it. Nothing is more exhilarating than the discovery that a complex pattern has lain in your mind ready to unfold. — Janet Burroway

A story gets better not just by polishing and refurbishing, not by improving a word choice here and an image there, but by taking risks with structure, re-envisioning, being open to new meaning itself.

A second draft isn’t created simply by sitting down and starting on page one and tinkering and tightening every line until you reach the end. In a second draft, you’re going to deal with chunks of new information, new characters and new structures. You’re going to experiment with the sound of your voice and style.