Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is Your Revision Strategy?

Hey Everyone,

So some of you may or may not know that I'm currently revising my book and I was a little over 100 pages into what I had hoped to be my most epic revision ever...only to find that I'm still having some issues with characters-one character in particular is generally hated by all of my alpha readers and he's just not supposed to be hated. He's just...a little bit squishy...

I spent a long time today talking to Janine, eating up her office hours at the university where we both teach and we discussed my most hated character and why I'm having issues with him and with some other relationships. And I realized that I never really looked at this sort of thing in depth before.

My last revision was all about plot. And I've revised on the hunt for spelling mistakes and nit picky grammatical errors. I've revised where I changed from 3rd to 1st person, and I've revised looking at the emotional arc and development of my MC.

But now...besides fixing some of the plot, and grammatical errors, I think I need to do a revision where I just look at the growth of all my side characters, and all of the relationships formed in the story.

I've never done that before. I guess I never knew I needed to, and I'm willing to bet that some lucky writers don't need to do this (ugh I hate you!-no not really...I think...). Anyway! It's made me do you revise? Do you just jump in and fix everything? Do you do a sweep of grammar? Followed by a sweep of plot? Followed by a sweep of character arcs? Or do you do something totally different?

Also do you have a different revision style of working from writing? Like I know that I need absolute silence to write. But I do have a soundtrack to go with my story and I like to play that during revisions.

Do you go back into your word document and fix mistakes/add new things from there? Or do you just start from scratch on a blank document and rip and tear apart your WIP until you can patch it back together again?

I'm planning to add in character arcs and emotions to my current epic revision which is mostly focused on cleaning up the wording and adding in some missing plot elements/exchanging some others that were altered. I'm going to try and accomplish this with an existing draft of my WIP so I don't have to retype everything...but who knows, the more epic the revision becomes, the more I need to retype.

Ok all you writers in or past the revision stage, tell me about it!


  1. I've just attended an SCBWI Novel Revision retreat led by Darcy Pattison. One of the best things she had us do was work with a shrunken manuscript. We printed our novels at 8pt font and took out all the white space. Page number will vary, but most of us (sixteen participants) had 30-40 pages.

    Once printed, spread the manuscript out in rows. Now you can see your story all at once. With various markers, you can identify strong chapters, weak, areas where the tension needs to rise, conflict, various sub-plots, the list is endless.

    It is such a good visual to see what's working and what's not. Of course, you 'll need a second copy to read from!

    Check out her book, Novel Metamorphosis for more ideas.

  2. Our chat today energized me, Frankie. Your story is a complex and beautiful, and it's a delight to a part of your process.

  3. We're kind of weird about revisions. We break all the rules and do a lot of revising as we write, so usually by the time we get our first draft complete the comments and crits are more manageable.

    Of course there have been plenty of times where we've had to make MAJOR changes to a completed manuscript and that's the most difficult way to revise, I think. It's just so overwhelming! As my friend Katie once told me, it's really hard to see the whole picture when you're living inside the frame.

  4. Caroline-omg that sounds like the coolest thing ever! I want to do that. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Janine,awwww thank you so much! What you said today was really helpful and I think it's goin to allow me to take the story to another level.

    Lila-oh girls! I love to do that revising as you go along thing but it doesn't work for me at all. I've have actually spent months-I mean months doing nothing but writing, revising and rewriting chapter 1. Plus I found it helps me to just write nonstop until I get to the end. But then of course I am left with 500 pages of WIP that needs revising and OMG......overwhelming!

  5. Oooh check this out a bunch of Simon and Schuster authors answered questions about how many times they revise and let you in on some of their revision strategies.


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