Revision Equals Altering Reality

ultimate earthsI’ve been working on revisions for Mik Murdoch: Crisis of Conscience for a few months now and I had an epiphany: revising a book is like altering reality.

Let me explain.

When the television series, Sliders aired, I watched every episode religiously. It was always fascinating to me how every world was different due to some distant decision that was different from the one made in the Sliders world. Sometimes the resulting outcome was as small as a gate squeaked/didn’t squeak. Other times the Earth was either destroyed (as we know it) or about to be.

All because a key decision was different.

Part of the lengthy revision process for me has been because of a decision I made when I wrote the book. I started at, what seemed like a logical point. It allowed me to reintroduce my readers to the character and build up to the first problem.

My publisher asked me to start the book at the problem. Get the readers involved right away.

After a bit of thought, I realized how correct she was. So, I started the book at a later point. When I was working through just what that point should be, I actually changed a small piece of the story. Those two actions resulted in a considerable amount of early revision.

Now, the same story has events that happened in the first version and not in the second. New events in the second that didn’t happen in the first, some events similar with a different outcome and so on. The story is fundamentally the same, but there are many subtle changes (and some not-so-subtle).

All because I made a different decision at the beginning.

I have, at its very core, changed the reality of the character. He is having many of the same experiences in the story. It essentially starts at the same place and should end, more or less, at the same spot too. The journey in between is different.

As I’m thinking about this, I’ve come to realize that such has been the case for every book I’ve revised. The fundamental plot has remained largely the same but how it flows has been different. In some cases the outcome is different too.

I wonder what my characters think about that? Is there a reality somewhere that has my original book printed instead of the one I’m working on now.

It’s fun to think about.

Is that your experience too, or am I just weird? 🙂


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