Quora Question #13

Okay lovelies, this time we address revision processes. What do you do when you revise?

What is the best way to revise?

I find revising becomes a process personal to all writers. You need to find a process that you are comfortable with. There are a lot of books out there on revision, check those out and see if any of their suggestions work for you. Also, look at blogs written by writers. Many of them will, at some point, talk about their editing and revision processes.

Personally, if I’m revising something I have this process:

  1. Once I finish something, I set it aside. I work on something else. Sometimes I just take a break from actual writing and do research for something I want to do later. Or I just read.

    But for how long?

    That depends on you. Push it away from your mind and once you’ve reached a point where you aren’t thinking about that bit of writing you have stewing in the corner of your computer’s hard drive. Personally, I try to give at least a week if possible before trying to go at it again.

  2. After I’ve given it time to stew out of mind and out of sight, then I do a couple reads of it. I read it myself and look for inconsistencies. I’m more of a novel writer, so I look for character and story arcs, making sure they follow tightly and things aren’t completely taken off track.

    What I like to do with this is first write a summary of each chapter/scene and what I think may need to be added, removed or changed completely to keep on track

    I don’t do any actual editing or rewriting during this step. It’s all about the note taking.

  3. I have someone else read it through for the same things.
  4. Once I have a combination of notes from both a writer and reader’s perspective, then I put together a plan of action. First, I rewrite my outline so that it stays tight to my arcs (my first draft outline is very loose and just something to keep me going in — hopefully — one direction).

    Once I have an outline, I use those previous chapter summaries and add the comments from my reader’s perspective so I have, basically, a more in depth outline.

    (To give an idea of what these look like: my Excel document that holds my bios for my characters and locations also has an outline section, the regular outline section is about 5-6 pages long for my current 55 chapter story. My chapter summaries and notes are kept in an actual Word document and is 20 pages long for the same novel)

  5. Once I have those written out, I prioritize the chapters based on how much work each one needs. I also give myself a word count goal of how much to cut and how much to keep. I tend to not limit myself of first drafts which can cause long windedness.
  6. Once I have that organized I usually give myself a schedule:
    Time to do any additional research needed.
    b. Devote a certain amount of time per priority level (high, medium, low). Usually a week to two weeks to accomplish low priority, two weeks to a month on medium and high each.

    I’ve learned giving myself a goal and schedule (and I try to give specific dates) encourages me to beat that goal. To cut more words without running the story and finish editing before what I make as my due date.

  7. Once that is done, I set it aside again.
  8. After some time away, I reread and have at least one other person reread. This time looking more at mechanics.

    I do actual editing in this stage as I read, but I try to make sure that I am not doing LARGE changes. If I’m finding myself rewriting more than a sentence or two to fix something then I missed something in step 6.

  9. I compare what I changed to what my reader(s) changed and submit any additional ones I need.

In all this long windedness, that is my basic process that I follow. Sometimes there are a few repeats of steps 6 and 8, but I do get through to a point where I’m satisfied enough to set it aside and possibly query agents.


So, I don’t know if I’ve ever gone through that much detail why describing my process here, but that’s what I tend to do. What do you do?

Until next time my lovelies!


A Whisper In The Ear

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