The Writing Process, part III: Revisions

Lately on Twitter I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about the writing process, how people go about the actual labor of constructing the book, and how authors revise, edit, and prep their book for submission or self publication. I know I do things a little differently from a lot of other writers, so I though I’d take some time to walk you guys through my personal process. This will be a multi-part series running on Fridays through March and April. I hope you find it interesting, and if you have any questions about any part, please feel free to leave a comment! You can find parts one and two here.

We did it! We’ve done the legwork, outlining and researching our book, and now we have a finished draft. We’re done, right?


Yeah, no.

But the good news? We’ve reached the 50% mark. Now it’s time to start work on revising and editing.


Revision 1: Big Picture

I used to do big structural edit on paper, and occasionally I still like to print out a manuscript and go through it physically by hand, but anymore it’s just a lot easier for me to use the computer, especially now that I’m back to using Scrivener. It’s much easier to drag and drop scenes or entire chapters in Scrivener than in Microsoft Word.

My first revision I’m looking at structural and plot issues. If I see a typo, I’ll fix it, but it’s not what I’m concentrating on. I’m looking at the big picture.

I’m also an underwriter, which means I write bare-bones first drafts that are around 50-60,000 words, so between the fill-in stage of my draft and this first revision I might add anywhere from 5-20,000 words.

This first revision can include anywhere from 1-3 passes, depending on how clean my original draft is. Some books basically write themselves; others have to be pieced together like jigsaw puzzles.

Revision 2: Line Editing

My second revision is all about word choice. I start by doing a search for all of my known redundant words, which includes was, were, and had been, which also helps me identify cases of passive voice (I’m really bad about writing in passive voice. Really bad).

Once I’m done with the find and replace portion, I go through line by line looking at my word choice and smoothing out the language.

Revision 3: Rough Formatting

When I’m done with that, I zoom out until I’ve got 4-6 pages on my screen at one time, and start counting pages to put in chapter markers. I like to break my chapters every 10-15 double spaced pages for YA, and every 12-20 pages for adult. I try to put chapter breaks mid scene, preferably on a cliffhanger.

Once my manuscript is blocked out into standard submission format, it can go to a critique partner or beta reader, or an outside editor. Once I have their feedback, I can move on to the next step.

Check back next Friday for more on my editing process!


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