Lessons from a writer: the revision stage
Your book is done, your ideas are now a story, and you’re ready to see that thing on a bookshelf. But, hopefully you know you’re not done yet. The fun part is over, and now you have to revise. Here’s an article I wrote on revisions, and here’s one on decreasing your word count and another on increasing your word count. There is no end to the number of ways you can start revising your manuscript, but we have a group panel today with how writers go about revising.
What do you look for in your revision stage?
When I’m revising my story, the biggest things I look for are changes I made along the way. If I altered the setting or the reason a certain character does what they do or even a major event, I’ll be sure to look for those things in the beginning and alter them to reflect the proper outcome. I also look for anywhere I can add a little foreshadowing or connect the dots in the beginning. Toward the end, I’ll look for places I can reiterate early events or bring back up past influences that may have affected later events. It helps make the novel more cohesive and it brings a layer of depth to the story that I don’t feel an author can achieve in a single draft. -Crystal MM Burton
That kind of depends what you mean in the revision stage. There isn’t that much of a clear line when the manuscript becomes a manuscript instead of a draft for me until it clicks. Once it’s in that stage, I give it another thorough read and try to see if my beta readers miss anything, which I then discuss with them. If they have, I revise that scene or character further. After that, it’s looking for words I don’t like, weird grammar, and then I have to let it go! If I keep it too long, I’ll never submit it. A manuscript is never perfect, no matter how much I try, so when I don’t know what else to do with it, it goes to my editor. -Lina Duarte-Aristizabal
I remember in elementary school the basics of writing a good story. Our three main parts were the beginning, middle and end—later on in school we learned that those parts were called the main idea—introduction, the body—story itself, and then the conclusion—wrap up of the story. I don’t think much has changed except for how we tell the story. Our stories need a solid start . . . something that captures our audience within the first four lines. It needs a great buildup of content about the characters, the situation, or the problem and at the end a resolution, epiphany or conclusion to the story . . . or something that will hook us until the next installment of the story (see cliffhanger). I’ve seen people begin their stories in the middle of the project and those are the ones I kinda like best. To be thrust into the action and goings on of the story and having to figure it out on my own. For me that is interactive reading and it’s something I look forward to in a good story. -Tyronica Smith
The revision stage is one of the longest parts of writing for me. I search for a number of things: character traits and interactions, dialogue, setting, and plot. It’s during this phase that I really try to smooth things out. If I see dialogue that seems out of place for a character, I cut it out or assign it to a character that it fits to. This is also the time I may go through and add bits of new information to speed up slow parts or help clarify anything I think might be confusing. For me, the revision stage is when it really all starts to come together. -Kayla Krantz
How could I tighten up the story to make it more impactful to the reader? Does the narrative line go off the rails at some point? If so, where and how can it be fixed? -Jack Pewitt
The first thing I look for in revisions are the obvious errors. I read it out loud to see if the writing makes sense. -Rob Cooke
In my revision stage, I give a lot of thought into grammatical errors, but I also look for things I can spruce up. If something is bland, I do my best to make it more interesting. If nothing is going on, I look for ways to add characterization. -Tim Munnerlyn
Want to know more about this week’s panel?
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.
Sara’s Swamp Blues is Rob Cooke’s second novel. Cooke is divorced with three teenage children. He does play banjo, guitar, and harmonica.
I’m a horror and thriller writer inspired by Stephen King with a liking for things dark and macabre. My obsession with 80s music and movies leads me to believe I was born in the wrong generation. Almost always lost in the world of books.
I currently write mostly fanfiction for fun. That being said, I love making others laugh and seem to have a knack for parodies. I wouldn’t say that I’m a professional writer, but I’m always looking for ways to improve.
I’m a fantasy, adventure, and horror writer from Texas. I’ve been a member of Authors’ Tale for roughly a year. I have a background in design and a passion for classical art.
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 😛