Monday, June 14, 2010

The revision process

I find the writing process to be almost relaxing. I settle in, throw on some appropriate music, and set my mind to the specific scene that I am writing. I love this part of the process. Then the relaxation melts away and I enter the revision process...

To me, revising is like exercise. There are many that enjoy it, maybe even love it, but most of us hate it. The rewards are similar - a tight product (body or manuscript). But the process to get to the tightness is grueling. Trainers will often say that your body aches because you are changing the muscle. I guess that is why revisions are so damn painful - you are changing, toning, buffing up your WIP until you could be proud walking around naked, or eh - in your writing I mean. :) . We polish until we are ready to bare our souls to agents/editors/publishers.

So I am interested. Tell me your revision process. Is it as painful for you? Check out my process below and let me know if yours is similar.

My current process:

I fast draft my 1st draft, for the most part. But I am a peeker. Like one of those kids that has to search out her presents before Christmas. I neeeed to see, to know, what I have done. So I check back, review and make minor edits to chapters as I go along. This inability to move on is why my current WIP's Ch.1 is on it's 6 millionth revision.

After I finish draft 1, I set it aside for about 2 weeks. Then I pick it back up and start with chapter one, shaping the ARC, flushing out my plot, tweaking my voice until the chapter looks failry clean. I do not line edit at this point unless something is staring me down with an evil eye. I continue through the first quarter of my book. Then I reread that quarter for flow. If everything looks pretty then I move on to the next quarter, continuing the above until I have completed the book.

Once I have completed draft 2 (which honestly is more like 2 or 3 drafts) I line edit the entire book using a red pen and a print-out.

I let it sit for 2 weeks. Then I reread.

Tell me your story.



  1. Welcome to the blogosphere, Melissa! Followed your link here from the Blueboards.

  2. Hi Anne! Thanks for the welcome. It's good to be here. :)

  3. Hi Melissa! Your blog looks great. I haven't done much revising for a while, since I'm waiting for the summer when I have more time. But one thing I do is put my novel aside for a while. This time, my novel will have rested for about three months (and collected some critiques) before I begin revisions.

  4. Congratulations on your new blog, Melissa!
    I am a compulsive revise-as-I-go writer, so I generally start every day by revising what I wrote the day before. It would probably be good to stop doing this, because it takes months to crank out that first draft, but I can't resist. Besides, it gets me in the mood to continue my story, and that's a good thing.

  5. Welcome to blogland!
    I write my first draft. As I reread while I add to it, I do revise here and there, but not much. I give it to my critique group. Make some changes afterwards. Set aside, get some more readers. Change some more. Fine tooth comb it. And that is that.

  6. Thanks for the welcome.

    It amazes me how many different styles of revising we all have.

    Andrea - I think setting the novel aside is a great idea, especially if you are not involved in a critique group. It is kind of refreshing don't you think? You come back to it and think "wow" this is pretty good. :)

    Vonna - I semi revise the way you do. I have to force myself to keep my internal editor in check during my first draft. It takes me about 2 months to write a 70K novel and this is only because I am able to quiet my inner editor from driving me crazy on active/passive, overuse of throw words, etc.

    Kelly - I wish I felt so comfortable with my 1st draft to edit as you do. I am jealous! My 1st Draft needs extensive work in order to make it "presentable" to my crit group/partner. :)