Thursday, January 31, 2013

Learning My Revision Process with The Completion of Each New Book.

I've been a bit of a writing fiend the last couple of years, but like children or pets, each manuscript is different. I keep hoping to find the formula and, truth be, I'm getting closer. Not a formula for story, you don't really want one of those, but the formula for my revision process.

My WIP, working title THE PERFECTION OF A WATERMELON POPSICLE, was zapped off to two beta readers today. Eight months ago I started it. You might remember this VLOG from October where I was debating about whether or not to scrap 38,000 words and start over.

Well I did.
Then I hit 18,000 words the 2nd go round and freaked out that it was crap.
So before I started over a third time, I sent those 60 pages to two readers who promised me there was something worth working on.

I slogged through the muddy middles and worked my way to the end (I love endings). First draft complete. That was a great feeling. A friend (Hi Jen!) agreed to read the first draft purely for pacing and story issues. She told me some plot points that weren't working for her and areas where the pacing lagged or could be expanded.

But what now? Well for me, I drew back on my experience at Cheryl Klein's workshop on using a book map for revisions. First I reread the manuscript on paper, red-lining immediate fixes I saw during the reading. Then I went through my manuscript scene by scene noting what worked, what didn't work, where the pace and timing were off, and any little notes I needed for myself, keeping in mind Jen's comments. I made a spreadsheet and duly noted all this information.

Then, back to page one. And I plowed back through, using my red-lines and my book map notes. As I worked through chunks of chapters, I sent these off to my alpha reader. An alpha reader, is the first serious critiquer. A good alpha reader doesn't spare your feelings. So, if we were to count at this point, I've got:

  1. First Draft
  2. First Draft Reader's Pacing/Plot Notes
  3. Author Red Line
  4. Author Book Map Scene by Scene
  5. Author First Pass Revision
  6. Alpha Reader's Intensive Sentence by Scene Notes
And Finally, #7 - Revision Complete Based on Alpha's notes.

So some of you may think, you're done, right? Hell no I'm not done. I've got 2 readers, reading now. Depending on what they say, there will most likely be #8 - Revision Based on First Betas. Then I'll get yet another reader. If they give me the thumbs up, then I send it to my agent. 

But get this - my agent may want revisions!
And then when it goes to my editor to see if it might be Book 2 of my deal, she'll put me through at least two revision rounds and then copy edits!!

And you thought writing was easy ;0)
How's your process different? 


  1. Thanks for sharing your process. I was actually going to blog about mine today as well. One of the biggest changes I've made in my revision process is using index cards. I use a different color index card for every chapter, writing down the scenes as I read. I also write down the date and time of day the chapter takes place.

    A while ago two lovely writers posted about their character bios, so I created one for my main character. I'm actually having fun revising for the first time.

    1. I'll tell you a secret. Part of why I blogged it was to have a record for the future :0) - you should blog yours, too.

  2. I am also evolving with how I edit and revise. I'm taking some classes with Margie Lawson and doing a lot with highlighters to point out the balance (and lack of) elements on a page.

  3. Really interesting hearing your revision process - thank you for sharing!

  4. You make me feel so much better about the 30,000 words I tossed last month:) I'm feeling less like revision and more like total rewrite with a few passing similarities.

    1. Well I supposed you could call it a rewrite but my character homework still stood. And for me, the basic plot was the same. I think I was trying too hard the first attempt. Forgetting that first drafts are messy so you can find the heart of the story.

  5. I've scrapped wips and started over, too, despite the many writers who've urged me to plow through the first draft. Sometimes it helps, sometimes not. But it's great to know I'm in good company! :)

    Best of luck on future revisions!

    1. I went to a SCBWI Schmooze where Megan Miranda spoke. Rewriting from scratch each draft IS her process. Made me tired just listening!

  6. Thanks for that! I'm working on editing and I love hearing how other people do it. =)

  7. Writing is a never ending process! Edit, edit, edit and edit again!



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