A Brief Handbook of Revision for Writers


Few good works, if any, spring fully formed in first draft. What few spontaneous acts of literary creation exist, such as Coleridge’s fragmentary “Kubla Khan,” are those of authors whose technical abilities match their genius—which is to say authors whose knowledge and practice of art are highly developed.

The student writer may have a secret or instinctive belief that writing should occur spontaneously, and certainly when writing succeeds that way, it’s a gift. More often than not, however, wholly successful passages spring from unerring, spontaneous inspiration only intermittently and unconscious artistry cannot be depended on to achieve completed, successful works.

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