Writerly Notions: The Right Revision

I apparently struggle with revision.

So, it’s not hard to conceptualize a pattern of how to revise. I theoretically break revision up into multi-steps, to address more detailed attention. Like start with making sure the structure works, and so and so until you reach sentence structure. So, yeah, I get that.

But I realized there’s an aspect of revision that really throws me:

how do you know what the right order of a story is?

I can string events in order in my mind, especially if I write it out, but how do I know whether that order — event to event to event — is the best order for the story to unfold in? My criteria right now is whether it flows smoothly; does it seem as if it fits together and does the previous events seem to hook up with the following event. But how do I know for sure it’s best?

Some of this is probably predicated by how I feel writers (and creators) often operate on a “what if?” scenario basis. Which is really odd to me. If I write a story one way, that’s the way it is. Characters might change. Ambitions might change. Plot might change. If it changes as a result of discovering and revising the story, sure. But consciously sitting down to play out different scenarios is kind of…weird to me.

I guess what I’m getting at is that my impression of writers is that they mix and match events (or scenes) to get the best string of events (or story).

My question is then, how do you know which pattern is the best story?

And that gums me up in revision because I don’t know. Or don’t feel like I know. I wish there was a criteria to let me know when I’ve reached the best string of events for my story. That would really help. But I don’t think that exists.

As always, feel free to share your experiences or thoughts. I can’t guarantee I’ll respond quickly, but I wanted to extend the offer.