To revise or not to revise

I went up to campus this afternoon for a few hours, and while I was up there I decided to try sticking around for Orson Scott Card’s “1001 Ideas in an Hour” session at LTUE.

The most interesting part to me was at the very end, when one of the attendees asked, “How many revisions do you do?”

Card said, “When I type the last word of the last chapter for the first time, I send it to my publisher.” That’s right. No revisions. He went on to say that he will start a piece over several times until he gets it right, but after that it’s a straight shot without any tweaking.

His rationale, he said, was that the first draft is always the most alive, even if it’s a little ragged. But so many people polish and smooth their drafts until they’re sparkling little gems which are absolutely dead.

It’s an interesting thought, one that took me rather by surprise, but I can see where he’s coming from. I’ll have to try it with my own work and see if that’s what happens.