Learning to Revise: Part 1

badparagraphThe weekend of May 17th, I went up to Muse Mountain for a writer’s retreat as a day tripper. Anna DeStefano was there to do her workshops on planning and character, drafting, and revisions. It was the revision one that caught my attention. Revision for me is the dreaded task. I know it must be done, but I was clueless where to start.

I’ve explored this topic before. I’ve purchased craft books, read blogs and tried to do it myself. I fixed grammar, added commas and checked my dialog tags.  Still the story didn’t shine. It was sagging in the middle. I had a lot to learn about revisions.

Why revise?

When I go to submit my story, I want it to be the best story I can produce. My drafts tend to be all talk and no description. I need to go in and add the deep POV. In other words, I need a ton of work to make the story shine.

All of us revise. We either revise as we go or revise at then end. I was guilty of the “revise as you go” process. For the first novel, I was so busy polishing the first three chapters I had a hard time finishing the novel.  I also got seriously sick of that book. This book, I drafted first. I like fast drafting, but that’s another article.  Now I’m ready to revise. What do I do?

Types of revisions

Here was the shocker for me. There are several types of revisions:

  • Developmental
  • Copy or line edits
  • Proofreading

Proofreading is the easiest. Did you run spell check? Grammar check? Good, though be aware that word processing programs are not perfect for grammar. Nor do they catch wrongly used word. Your word processor won’t distinguish between ‘here’ and ‘hear.’ Proofreading also means doing a read-through and fixing things like a name used wrong, wrong words and other tweaking you might do.

Copy or line edits is the type of editing an editor will do before publishing your book. This type of editing will include catching plot holes, some characterization, and that type of stuff.

Developmental edits are just that. This may also be called substantial edits. You deconstruct the novel and revise each part. It’s this type of editing that was the subject of the retreat.

Ways of doing revisions or When to Reviseil_fullxfull.365721077_ka8v

As mentioned above, in my first novel, I rewrote the first three chapters so many times. It was the part that got entered in contests. Took me a while to finish the book. Now I draft. After planning the book, I write the first draft until done. Here is where I stumbled. What happens next?

I chose to try the developmental edits. I knew the book needed a lot of work. Why? Proofreading didn’t work. I read through the novel and it needed a lot of work. It wasn’t ready for anyone to see.

Over the next three months, we will take each one of these types of edits and dig into what goes into each one. We’ll look at the best time to do what type of edits. To prepare for that I have a reading list of sources for you:

Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction by David Michael Kaplan.

Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore” by Elizabeth Lyon.

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print by Renni Brown and Dave King.

Websites to check out:

http://www.annawrites.com from Anna DeStefano. She has great a great blog including “How We Write.” Anna will have a workshop at RWA this year and does workshops all over about revising. Her archives on her blog are a great source.

Here’s another blog on editing offering a great overview: http://www.wordcafeblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/editing-workshop-par-1-do-i-really-need-an-edit/.

revisionhellNeed help with grammar? The Chicago Manual of Style is online: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a great place for grammar help.  I learned about this site when I went back to school. You can find it here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/.

These should get you started on building your tool kit for revising your novel.  Of course, there is no one-way to do this.  Next time: the adventures of developmental edits.


6 thoughts on “Learning to Revise: Part 1

  1. Cathy Yardley’s Rock Your Revisions helped tremendously, as did Diana Layne’s post on The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood! Kaye Dacus’s series on writing is amazing too.

    What’s cut down on the OMGWTFBBQ part of drafting and revising is finally understanding the purpose of turning points via Jenny Crusie’s RWA handout. I’d have characters and a plot, and would definitely know my Black Moment, but many people would call my MSS “quiet” because I was just hitting lots of plot points I thought were turning points until I reached the Black Moment/Climax. I’d nail that part, but everything before that mark was just the characters doing things and reacting to events instead of the plot coming forth from their characterization (and the shape of the romance genre).

    Now the grammar…I’m loading up my brain on that because I’m almost hopeless. 😀

  2. I’ve been furiously scribbling down titles and downloading samples so that I can get started on reading these. Thanks for the links to the websites too. I hadn’t bookmarked all of these. I can’t wait to see what you’ve discovered with your developmental edits. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the developmental editing I have to do for my day job. 🙂

  3. Revisions are my favoritest thing evah! #not
    Thanks for all the great resources in one post, this is awesome.

  4. Pingback: Revisions – Part 2: Taking The Novel Apart | Teatime Romance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s