Friday, June 22, 2012

Editing & Revising Step-by-Step

Find a cozy spot and let's get revising!

As I write this I’m doing it to avoid that thing called revisions. I’ve read through and edited my manuscript but now it’s a matter of implementing those revisions. So since I’m currently in the process I thought I’d share how I work.

Editing & Revision:

Step 1: Buy yourself a pretty notebook. You’ll be using it often. Why? Because it’s an easy place to keep any ideas, subplots you may have dropped, or notes to yourself while revising. I love the spiral notebooks B&N has.

Step 2: I recommend buying a highlighter and colored pens. Also, make sure your margins are wide enough for editing preferably 0.5” all around.

Step 3: Complete a full read-through. As you comb through the manuscript look for typos and grammatical errors, awkward sentence structure, overuse of exclamation points and comma splices. Now, be careful to make sure that character hair and eye color hasn’t changed. (With this manuscript I kept switching from green to brown to hazel with two characters. Talk about frustrating).

Are there chapters where you take severe detours from the main plot? Is this necessary? Should you cut? Do scenes need to be lengthened? Does that witty, awesome, super imaginative scene really hold a purpose? If not, chop that sucker out.

Make sure your chapter and scene markers remain the same throughout. Does the dialogue feel too modern (if you’re writing fantasy)? Is the world building enough (this applies even to contemporary stories)? Does your character grow throughout the book? If not you’ve got a problem and need to work on character development. How are your main characters relationships with other characters? Do you have too many minor characters? Do some appear at the beginning and never again? Can you lump two or three together to make one character? Is the plot believable? How’s the ending? Cliché or original?

Step 4:

Once you’ve evaluated all these things and more, depending upon what applies to your story, then you’re ready to begin implementing these changes. Be creative in how you approach a problem scene.  You may find the fix is very complicated or can be as simple as changing a few words or scenes around here and there.

Step 5:

Once you feel the manuscript is shiny. Send it off to CPs (critique partners). If you don’t have them. Find some. You can find some on the Absolute Write forums, YaLitChat, Writer’s Digest Community, or any writers groups. Also, the awesome Krista at the Mother. Write. (Repeat) blog recently has done a critique partner connect. Ya'll should check it out :)

Step 6:

Once you get their feedback. Implement those which makes sense. Sometimes it is a tough pill to swallow but we must learn to be objective with our work. If something isn’t working, a critique partner's job is to tell us. Although, you’re not bound to use everything one suggests. Still, wade through the feedback and find out what will work best for the manuscript in the end. Also it's best to have more than one critique partner. They are not the same as beta readers. A beta reader can be within your target audience (age-wise) or a fellow writer or reader doing an overall read-through other than an in depth critique. Both are great but a critique partner is invaluable.

Good luck!



  1. I love using colored post it flags when I revise. I use one color to show the passing of time and other for things like major events, character description, etc.

    1. Lol I've been itching to use multicolored pens. Lol you must have a lot of sticky notes I'll have to chat w. u about this sometime :)

  2. Pure gold. This post will be printed, put in sheet protectors and pinned to the wall above the desk. Thanks!

  3. I love buying a new notebook. :) great list.

  4. This summer is a huge revision summer for me. It's exhausting and taking longer than I thought. Instead of making myself crazy, I'm just pushing my deadline back. Peace of mind is priceless.