Skip to main content

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. :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Pitch Wars 2017 Wishlist!

Hi! How are you? Excited? Nervous? Hating your MS? Loving your MS? Yep, I get it. Been there, have the wrinkles to prove it. But that's what retinoids are for, and besides--

Wait, let me back up and do this introduction thing properly. And, you know, by "properly" I mean Hart of Dixie style.

So, you're probably wondering who I am and why I think I'm a rockstar, when I'm just a brand new little newbie mentor. Well, here's the thing--I'm not really one of those "I think I'm a rockstar" kind of people, so we won't be going there. Sorry. BUT I can tell you who I am. Here goes.


USA TODAY bestselling author Melissa West is the author of more than fifteen novels, each set in the South and ready to steal a reader’s heart with Southern charm, sweet tea, and a whole mess of gossip. Her novels have received high praise and recognition from RT Book Reviews, Seventeen Magazine, Fresh Fiction, and Harlequin Junkie, among others…

Outlining -- a.k.a pulling your hair out

Outlining...yes, that organizational craziness that forces you to look like the poor cat above. Yep, that's what I'm talking about today. After reading a fellow blogger’s post regarding plotters vs. pansters, I began to research various outlining methods. The snowflake method is a very common approach that involves starting with a summary sentence (a.k.a pitch) then expanding out.
Some claim this hinders creativity, while supporters feel it keeps them on track. I've decided to use elements of the approach (click here). I like the pitch sentence to begin with. This took me quite awhile, but in developing my pitch sentence for Twisted Root I found that it helps to think in broad terms. A+B=C But the more interesting element of this model is the disaster moments in the story. You know, those moments where you become the evilest writer on the planet and your characters are tortured.
The Snowflake method suggests that you have 3 disasters (more with sub-plots) and an ending, ea…

Make your readers uncomfortable

I have this one scene in TWISTED ROOT that is…intense. It is so intense that I’ve had reactions all over the place from my CP’s and betas.

Let me start by saying I have a ton of people read my work. An 8 person crit group, 2 crit partners, and 2 that I would say are alpha readers—friends who read tons and have strong editing backgrounds.

So I receive crits all over the place, and this scene has created some interesting responses. One critter went crazy for it, loved it. Another referred to it as slightly icky. I loved that response. :) Another blushed when we discussed it in person. And all of the male critters I have thought it was awesome—go figure. Men have a much higher threshold for uncomfortable-ness, than most women. (JMHO!!!)

Now I’m not saying I don’t adore all my readers. I do. I couldn’t write without them. Each one makes my work stronger. But here’s the thing, I’m keeping the scene, as it is (for now). Wanna know why?

I think as a writer you should make your reader uncomfortab…