Revision is a passionless, cold, extraction of your beautiful thoughts, right? Not exactly. It’s more likely that revision will save you from yourself, as it’s saved my writing many times. There are, for the sake of brevity, two types of editing: line editing and content editing. I pride myself in the latter (and think it’s largely forgotten), line editing is a skill any writer can benefit from.
Content editing is first making sure the reader can follow the narrative. It is ensuring your plot is logical and native to what preceded it, while simultaneously adding or removing scenes from the story. I also include theme and other major literary elements within content editing as it provides layers to the narrative. Editing such literary devices can mean getting rid of phrases you loved while writing because it has no place in the tone of the story. It also includes reinforcing scenes with literary language to add emphasis.
Content editing is vital but line editing is even more so. This is what most people see as the lifeless destruction of a piece. Often times your first thought, those that often go onto the page, are half right. They have a sort of half-correct essence to them but they linger aimlessly. They don’t come with the finality of a revised thought. Some of this might be good in a given context, but if every sentence felt that way it would grow tiresome. In another sense line editing is also spell checking. It’s ensuring your paragraph contains a unit of thought and that the following paragraph has logical sense to the preceding one. If these are not edited, they will become a significant speed bump to the reader. Enough of these speed bumps (some readers only need one) and you lose the reader.
Editing is mentally taxing. I often find myself shirking it because of its difficulty. Without it though, my short stories would be a minefield. Rereading my stories fill me with immense doubt to the validity of the narrative. I regret writing entire passages or using a phrase the way I did. Its a burden a writer must bear because a story on the back of solid editing stands much taller than one without.