Welp, September has arrived in all its humid, hybrid summer/fall glory. To some it’s the start of school, to others its maybe the start of spooky season, for me it means it’s revision time. I am not a fan of revision, but boy do my stories sound 100 percent better afterward. With that being said it’s imperative to me that I hammer down a solid revision plan. Now given my background in creative writing, you’d think I’d be better prepared, but unsurprisingly I’m not. But I’m going to try anyway. The project that I’m working on is the first book in my newest series and I really really want it to be the best it can be. So here’s my little plan and I hope it can help some of you out as well.
Before you even start thinking about revising, during the hair flying madness that is drafting, leave yourself little notes. I’m the type of writer that works as quickly as possible to get the story out. This means I don’t do a lot of editing while drafting. If you’re like me and you have a lot of rough edges in your draft, leave yourself little notes beforehand.
It can be as simple as “Hey me, work in this scene I just thought of.”
Or it can be something bigger like “Sooo, it looks like one of your characters does X but it isn’t really explained. Go back and add a reason why X happens.”
I find these little notes to be beneficial, especially if you tend to forget what needs to be focused on between drafting and revision.
Protip: Didn’t leave yourself any notes?
That’s okay, re-read your draft, don’t focus on changing anything yet, just re-read. As you read it should jar your memory a bit, take notes then.
Another tip that might be helpful to some writers is extending your cool down period between drafting and editing. I’m not sure why my brain turns to complete mush when I try to edit too soon, but it does, and because of that I require I long cool down period. This might not be the case for everyone, but if you’re trying to revise and your brain is melting, then it might need more time to cool. The average cool down period for me is around five months or more. If you’re saying, Yikes! that’s totally understandable. That’s just what my brain likes, you can test and see what’s a good cool down time for you. Some ways I know my draft is ready is when I feel the protective motherly grip start to loosen. This is the period where little scenes and characters I swore I’d never cut start to move into the “it could happen” side of my brain. It just means that you’re removing your own personal bias so you can come at your work more objectively
That’s the easy part, the note-taking and cool down period, but what is the best way to revise?
Don’t hate me when I say this, but that depends 100 percent on you.
“Hey, hey! I can see you rolling your eyes!”
But it’s true. I belong to a lot of author groups and the question comes up all the time. How long does it take to revise? Are betas needed? Do you need a critic partner? And the answer remains the same, I know that wasn’t helpful, but here’s a tip if you’re like me and just starting off: give all of it a try.
My first time revising my first novel, Ouji the Curious Cat, I did a few rounds of editing and used betas to help gauge the plot, pacing, and character development. Then I sent it off to a good developmental editor. I think that was very helpful. This time around I’ll be doing the same thing. I’ll be combing through the book a few times, then let my betas have it, then I’ll comb through it again, before the editor sees it. I hope my plan works out and I’m sure you’ll hear me griping about on Twitter if it doesn’t. The take away is that there is no perfect way to revise. Honestly, I would research as much as you can and try out different styles and techniques. There are tons of books and vlogs out there, but asking fellow writers can help cut through the masses.
Like for example, I just came across Alexa Donne’s YouTube channel, and she has lots of helpful tips.
I’ve also taken a book recommendation from a good author friend of mind and purchased The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.
Anywho, I wish yawl luck, whether you’re brainstorming, outlining, drafting, or revising, each step has its own unique hurdles, but you can overcome it by working at it a little each day.