Revision Madness!

Actually–my title is sort of incorrect. Revision just makes me mad. Think about it. You work your butt off writing and writing. You finish a story. You feel good about it. Then, you have a moment when you realize that it’s not quite perfect…it could get better. Much better.

(Perhaps you’ve already sent it somewhere and it got rejected and you’re sort of kicking yourself for sending it before it was ‘really’ ready…maybe that’s just me.)

But you realize it could get better…so then…what next? Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and you’ve already got ideas about how to fix your characters or develop your plot. Maybe you’re not so lucky, so you stick it in a file on your desktop. You’ve heard that writers need ‘time’ prior to a revision. You stare at said folder for a few weeks and desperately wait for inspiration. The more you crave ideas…the less they come. You’re watching the pot. It’s not boiling.

I’m not lucky enough to have a critique group. I have a few trusted friends who read my stuff when their own lives aren’t too busy…but my day-jobs as a teacher, speech and debate coach, YARN editor and wife hardly leave me time to write, much less create a group of people to meet with about my writing and theirs. So, partially because I’ve never used a critique group, I don’t put much faith in the suggestions of others to inform my writing.

Until…

Until I uploaded my recent screenplay to Amazon Studios, that is. Amazon had a creative idea– scripts and movies created via crowd-sourcing. In a nutshell, you upload your screenplay to Amazon and anyone can download it, review it, and even rewrite it or make a test-movie for it. Some writers balked right away–random people rewrite and get some credit for my stuff? ARE YOU KIDDING?

I get those writers. But I wasn’t one of them. I took my chances and uploaded my screenplay for two reasons. First, I believed that my project would be so buried under thousands of others that the chances of someone actually rewriting it were slim. Second, I’m not a Hollywood insider (though I do know of a few awesome restaurants in the area), so I don’t really have connections to whom I can send this particular screenplay. I could ‘do lunch’–but it would be with my foodie-friends…not Hollywood elite. I saw the Amazon opportunity as a what the heck sort of option. Upload away!

How does all this relate to revision?

My screenplay “Follow Me” got a review. Some wonderful, fellow-aspiring screenwriter took the time to read my script and give me a long review with positive comments and revision ideas. This same reviewer sent me a follow up email with even more revision ideas. Excellent ones. And all at once the revision-bug bit me.

To be clear, I was at a loss when I uploaded my script to Amazon. I knew that it could get better—I didn’t know how. My reviewer looked at my script with clean and critical eyes. I have no idea who this guy is…his name is Joseph Braden. He could be a genius or a crazy. Whatever. His ideas rocked my socks. My revision incorporates his notes and builds upon them…he sparked the ignition of my creative engine, he greased the cogs of my grey matter.

Shannon Marshall, Assistant Editor

Picking my brain for inspiration.

And he made me wonder…how might crowd-sourcing play a roll in future revision inspirations? Could Amazon’s idea catch on in other realms? Would anyone be willing to upload their YA novel for random people to critique, read and make suggestions?

Do we trust our fellow writers with our ideas? Or do we see potential intellectual-property-thief trolls lurking around cyberspace corners?

So far, my experiment in trust taught me a lot and created a screenplay of which I’m truly proud. Re-vision. Sometimes seeing a project with new eyes requires the eyes of someone else.

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