Wednesday, August 4

How I Write: Weeks Seven and Eight – Revision

image This post was originally a two-part set of posts on Revision planned for July 28 and August 4. Between the last minute craziness of getting our family and stuff (lots of stuff) ready for the big move and then settling in here, I was not able to get it all done ahead of time. Please excuse my tardiness.

Here’s my take on revisions.

They frighten me. They excite me. They awe me. As you already know, I stick to the “fast draft, get the words down, and don’t look back” method of writing first drafts. It’s about feeling your way through the story, knowing your characters well, and sealing their motivation into an interesting story. Revisions are a place to tweak and fix, cement and sculpt your words into a coherent piece of work.

Everyone agrees that revisions should start with a breather or break for some set period of time. Take a week to let the words ferment. Give your mind a little time to gather distance. Revisions can be done completely on a computer screen, using tools like MS Word’s Track Changes, or by hand, with tools like red pens and purple highlighters.

Although I hate the thought of wasting paper, my preference is for a mix of the two. Going through my work looking for inconsistencies, weaving in plot points from notes taken during the writing process, and the obvious grammar and typo mistakes that stare out at me as I pass through on the computer screen. Then it’s time to print out a set number of pages, pull out the post-its and my favorite pens. Index cards can be used to keep track of scenes and important plot points that can later be used to write your synopsis.

Once you’re ready, or ready enough, it’s time to give your words a chance to see the world. Passing the work on to a critique group or partner can be intimidating and definitely takes courage. Take a deep breath, hit send, and remember that you’re still learning. Whether you’re just starting out or writing your next bestseller, remember writing is a craft and a process.

Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.


The Rundown on Rewrites – Jeri Smith-Ready’s take on rewriting. She recommends a book I’ve mentioned before, Plot & Structure.

The Twelve Commandments of Effective Revision or The End is Just the Beginning – Prudy Taylor Board’s article on revisions

One-Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle – The ever helpful Holly Lisle’s shares how to revise your book in just one ‘go-through.’

On Writing: The Basic Line Editor – Kristy Colley describes the basics of line edits.


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