Lessons from a writer: Reaching the revision stage
You did it! You finished your novel! First draft, dominated! Now . . . Oh, now revisions. Fun, right? Everyone has a different process they go through when revising their manuscript. Some are random, some meticulous, and others have to have others look before they go back through again. What’s your process like? We have another panel today, and there are a few tips that might help refine yours.
What is your revision process like?
My revision process goes in three steps. Step 1 is correcting plot holes or clarifying the sticky parts of the story, Step 2 is editing out sentences or paragraphs I feel don’t help the story progress, and Step 3 is rereading and rewriting to make sure I have a tight plot line and sound story structure. If I haven’t accomplished that, I make my correction right then and there. The revision process for me goes by sections that I have singled out with sticky notes or something that will let me know to tackle that page. Once I’ve finished, I set up time to reread the entire manuscript to see how it reads. My revision process can take up to a month or two because I want to dedicate the time to making sure I have a story that is easily read. –Tyronica Smith
My revision process is extremely slow. I read a section at a time and ask myself if it would make a good excerpt. I know that not every passage of a book is meant to stand on its own, but if there’s a five-hundred-word chunk that wouldn’t make a good excerpt, that wouldn’t capture someone and make them want to read more, then there’s a good chance that’s five hundred words of my story a reader might be wasting their time on. So I put it aside and rewrite that section and compare my new writing with my original. Chances are, they can be combined somehow to make a great section or chapter! If I felt it was good the way it was, I’ll reread a few times for consistency. The biggest advice I can give for revisions is to read through multiple times, each time focusing on something different. Have one read-through for character arcs, another for plot lines, another for environment and consistency. If you try to look for too much at once, you’ll miss plenty. But everyone has their own process, and you should try a few different methods until you find what works for you. –Crystal M M Burton
Revision, revision, revision! I’m a discovery writer . . . AKA a pantser. So, I get an idea and I begin writing. Then, when I get as far as I can, I go back and revise. Then I write some more. If I get stuck, I’ll go back and revise. Some might find this process exhaustive, but it works well for me. It allows me revise and to think about where the story is going. It also allows me to maintain continuity. That’s a big pet peeve for me. –Steve Guglich
I’m a discovery writer, so I often don’t know or understand my story until I write it. My revision process usually begins with me retroactively outlining the book on scrapple. Then I go chapter by chapter, reading, re-writing, and taking notes. As I read and re-write, my understanding increases and this usually inspires me to close plot holes and finish character development. I am always thinking of my story throughout the day, as I’m going to sleep, and then I dream. I know this won’t work for everyone, but it works for me.
I then go through cycles of beta readers. They leave comments on the document and make suggestive line edits using “Track Changes” on MS Word. I write epic fantasy so the beta readers are very important to the process. I often know things that the reader doesn’t . . . so it’s very helpful to have beta readers point out areas of the story that need more explanation. –Jake Parrick
My revision process usually starts at the top, and I work through the entire manuscript. I make changes, check spelling, and see if there are any other words that I could use to substitute the one already written down. –Sarah Barnes
I revise my work by reading it carefully after a few days or so. At least that’s what I am doing for my current WIP. It helps me see mistakes that I would otherwise ignore if I just read it right after. It’s like I’m reading and editing someone else’s work to fit my liking in a sense. –Matthew T Fields
I think revisions are a personal choice. Some people are very strict, but I’m more loosey-goosey during my revision process. I don’t revise my work front to back. From the very beginning of a new story, I use tons of sticky notes and bullet notes. I expand on these notes by making them into longer paragraphs. As those paragraphs grow into connected thoughts, I revise the story along the way.
I used to keep all my post-it notes on my bedroom wall, but my wall is full of another work at the moment, so I’ve been forced to move my current work to my computer. It’s not the same, and this doesn’t give me the same visual I normally enjoy, but it has become easier when moving ideas around.
As the work comes together, I don’t revise from the first note, then the second note, and so on. I’ll jump around and fix items as they jump out at me. No matter if the entire work is complete or not, I’ll revise items throughout the story. Only near the last draft will I start editing front to back. The WIP I have now is pretty close to complete, and I’m working on the fine details by reading the work completely through. Of course, once it’s complete, I’ll have three editors have their way with it, and I’m sure more revisions will be needed. No matter what technique a writer chooses to use to revise their work, we all get to the final product in our own time, and that’s the ultimate goal. –Amanda Blount
I am constantly thinking about my story. I would say I am thinking about it at least half of the hours I’m awake. Thinking about it that much, I will randomly think about how something could be done better, whether it be a small dialogue exchange, a big scene, or even an entire chapter. When I think of something that needs to be changed, I play it out multiple times in my head, or speak the dialogue out loud until I decide I am happy with the new version. I will also of course take advice from somebody who has also read my work and give it some consideration. –Eric Smolinski
Want to know more about this week’s panel?
Sarah writes erotica short stories. She posts them to her blog and shares them wherever she can receive critique. Currently, she is seeking publication for short stories.
I’m an Army Veteran, butler to my animals, rainbow rider, eater of all the cake, and most importantly, I’m a mother of two great children who make me smile. Since retiring from the Army, I look for ways to spend my days that don’t include training to kill other people. To that goal, I like to write, paint, draw, and enjoy my photography.
I am a stay-at-home mother and wife who spends my free time baking, crafting, and fangirling. I work from home as an author and freelance editor, and I insist my positive outlook has gotten me to where I am today.
Matthew T. Fields
I’m from Brooklyn, NY. I currently live in Danville, Ohio with my wife and daughter and a baby on the way. I self-publish. I have three books out already, and I’m working on my biggest project yet.
I am a writer of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I’m working on my first fantasy series called, The Veil Saga. My goal is to have it ready for print by the Fall of 2017. To find out more about me and The Veil Saga, you can check out my website.
When Jake isn’t writing about Fallen Angels, Lizard People, or badass Atlantean Knights wearing powered assault armor and killing the before mentioned Fallen Angels and Lizard People, he can usually be found in his secret bunker carefully calibrating the surface-to-air missile defense system.
I love writing across genres. I’ve recently found a fondness for nonfiction, and the best thing next to an awesome cup of coffee is an even more awesome book! Creators create, readers read, and writers suffer long silences from tight-lipped characters 😛
I am currently working on my first novel, a fantasy adventure called Accrue’s End: Pursuit. I also have a short story titled Sight Unseen that will be published in Collective Ramblings Vol 2. I’m still learning a lot about the writing process but am getting a lot of help from amazing people on Facebook.