The Joys Of Revision

From that title you're probably already thinking I'm crazy. Well, I am a bit perhaps. When the last word is written we all know the book is far from finished. But that doesn't have to mean the fun part is over. For me it means the opposite and I think it's all in how you approach it. If you're dreading the revision process it's going to suck because you've already set it up to. However, if you look at it as an opportunity to enrich your novel and add depth and dimension to it, then the process will be much more appealing.

I'm horrible about setting it aside. I don't want to set it aside because I know 'The End' doesn't mean it's done. But I do my best to ignore the shortcut on my laptop and not look at it for at least a week. If you can go longer do so. And I applaud you if you can. I cannot because I love the revision process and that's like putting a non-fat double tall mexican mocha in front of me and saying, 'don't drink it.' This part is important because you have to remove yourself from the story so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Once I've let it perculate for at least a week I open it up and do a read through. I like to do this on the computer because I can fix little things. LITTLE THINGS. This is not the point to dive in with a hatchet. It's a read through. I have to capitalize that to remind myself because it's not easy. Some people like to print it out and do their read through. Not me. If I print it out the Red pen will find it's way into my hand and I will have jumped right over the read through stage. Like putting that mocha in front of me.

After the read through I print it out. Now comes the part I live for, the Red pen. I must capitalize it because I love it that much. Yep, it's an illness, I know. Knowings half the battle. I once heard a speaker at a writer's seminar say they use a multi-colored pen to mark different things like adjective usage, mistakes, holes, needs for clarification, etc. I love that idea but haven't tried it yet. So I set to it with my Red pen and mark it up. It's important to cut anything that doesn't accomplish something for your story or the characters. And be careful on that second part. Even if it accomplishes something for the character, it still must be important to the story. It's like peeling away the unnecessary layers. It's not easy, but you have to do it.

Now all the Red pen revisions go into the computer. When I'm finished I do another read through and repeat the whole process as needed. At this stage I often have a trusted friend who will be honest read through it. Have fun with revision. Take your manuscript on a date to the coffee shop, or a cabin by the lake if you're lucky enough to have access to one. However you do it and wherever, enjoy the whole journey.

Here's some great advice on revising from Writer's Digest:


  1. I don't think you're crazy at all. I actually do kind of enjoy revisions, at least the first couple of rounds. After awhile, I do get tired of reading the same story again and again.

  2. Heather, I'm like you! I love the red pen. (And red truly is my favorite!)

    I think you're so right. I've heard the best books are created through editing, and if you embrace the journey it shows in your work.

  3. Thanks Alissa, glad to know I'm not alone. When they come for me with the white coat I'll direct them to you for a character reference! LOL! You're right though, after four times through I tend to need a break.

    Portia, another red pen lover, yes! I love what you said about embracing the journey. And I've got to agree with you.

  4. I don't really mind revisions either, but I am ready to be done with them! After round 7 or 8, or whatever I'm on, I would really like to be finished - until a publisher buys it and I have to do even more, but it will be worth it at that point!

  5. Boy do I know that feeling. My first series I wrote needs a total overhaul and I'm dreading it a bit. Once I get into the swing of it I'll enjoy it but it's such a huge undertaking it's kind of daunting. But it will be worth it. We finish only to sell it and revise some more. But you're right, at that point it's all good!

  6. I'm alright with revisions, it's until I could recite my manuscript word for word that I start seeing spots!

    I'm not a print off/red pen gal, have to do it all on the computer. It's so much easier to do a correction on whatever I find right then and there and I don't have to do it twice that way.

    Have fun with revisions, that's still the stage I'm on right now.

  7. That is rough when you get to that stage. I wish I could just do my revisions on the computer, boy would that save money in printing costs! But, I tend to rush when I do it that way. I really envy those of you who can do it though!


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