Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How I Revise Pt. 1

Notice I didn't say, "How To Revise." Because I know two things about revising: Everyone does it differently and you should constantly be revising (hee hee, see what I did there?) your technique, adding new tricks and tools to your Revising Tool Box.

I'm on the very last pass of my ms before sending it to my ninja agent. While I'm nervous about her reading it (PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF VODKA LOVE IT AS MUCH AS I DO!) I'm also so proud of it that I could burst. Ultimately you need to be in that place with your ms - you need to feel that it's the best thing you've ever done. And you can only get to that place if you've been Ming the Merciless while revising.

Here's how I do it:

1) Rewrite. I write the first draft, then immediately go back and revise it into a second draft. Why? I do this because I'm a pantser, not a plotter. I don't know where I'm going in the story until I get there, so when I get to the end I'm often like, "Who knew that guy was a jerk?" Which is fine, but I need to go back through the draft make sure those connections make sense, that the seeds of the ending are there in the beginning. If you are a plotter and know exactly where you are going, you may not need this step. But it can't hurt.

2) Beta readers. I wrote extensively on Betas here a while back. To sum up - you need them and you need to be very clear on what feedback you are looking for. Then, you need to carefully consider that feedback. Some advice might make total sense immediately, while other advice might be painful to hear. Read the feedback and consider it carefully. Consider the source, meaning, every reader has their biases. Be aware of where your Betas are coming from so you can weigh their feedback accordingly. Finally - do not let your ego get in the way. If feedback is wounding your ego, it's probably on target.

3) Wait. At least a day between getting your Beta feedback and starting revisions. It's a wonderful thing what your subconscious can come up with while you are sleeping or watching the Vampire Diaries - as long as you give it a bit of time. Sit with the feedback. It's the pause that refreshes.*


Which will be coming on Thursday!

In the meantime a question: What's your revision style?

*I forget which soft drink this slogan is from, but whoever you are, please don't sue me. I love fizzy drinks!


  1. Congrats on sending the ms to Barbara soon! And I definitely agree on the waiting period between getting feedback and starting the rewrite/revisions. As a Beta reader for your lovely book, I will be the first one to point out that Beta readers are not perfect. And we second guess ourselves, too. And I think as a Beta reader, I certainly would have done better to give myself a waiting period between finishing your book and writing my comments. Otherwise, as I learned, everything just comes out in a flood, and it is never helpful to overwhelm the writer. *sigh* I guess we all have room to improve.

    I guess you know how I revise. It's on the blog:

    Anyway, I am confident that Barbara will love it! Let me know what happens.

  2. You're right Jenny, Betas aren't perfect - I don't know anyone who has wholesale taken every piece of advice from a beta. But on the other hand, imperfect betas are *perfect* for challenging your ideas. I found you - in the best way possible - to be a challenging beta reader. You didn't let anything slide, you questioned everything that didn't make sense. That's the kind of beta everyone needs. (BIG LOVE TO YOU!)
    I also agree. when you're a beta, that it's good to take a breather between reading the work and sending comments. As you know, I tend to do a first pass for things that I have problems with and a second pass to make sure I comment on the things that I love. That way, I hope, makes for balanced feedback.
    Thanks for the vote of confidence. You'll be one of the first to know what happens. You will send me a gallon of vodka if I need it, right? :)

  3. Uh, I thought that was a given. Though I prefer gin to vodka. I guess we'll each have to have our own bottles then. And two straws.

    And I'm always here if you need to vent/be wickedly excited for you. It would help keep me from dwelling on my own book anxieties for awhile...

  4. A nice post. I wrote 15 drafts of my book before it was finished! And had about 10 proof-readers! I agree with you on the necessity of beta readers - they help shape a book. I revise as I read. I can't help it. Maybe it's an impulse, maybe it's a compulsion. Even a year after writing something - I can't read it without a pencil!

    1. Hi Fiona!
      I like the idea of 10 proofreaders - though I don't know 10 people who would read a 300+ page opus of mine! I'm quite happy with the beta readers I have - though I'm always looking for more! and I agree with the urge to edit. I imagine even published authors want to grab a red pencil when they re-read their published books.


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