I’m currently revising my book, it’s a daunting task. I’ve read lots of posts and articles on the ‘best’ way to revise. Then all the articles talking about when you are actually ‘done’ revising. What I’ve realized is that everyone’s process is different just like every book is. I’d like to share the process I’m using as a collaboration of ideas I’ve come across.
Here are the steps I’m currently taking as I trudge through the swamp of revision.
- Format. Create your chapters and make it look like a book. It’s so exciting to print it off, I go to a printer so I can say, ‘This is my book.’ You worked hard, show it off a little.
- Plug plot holes. First time through my story I only concentrate on making everything flow between chapters and fixing any plot problems. For me, this actually changed my story so much I’m glad I hadn’t changed anything else yet.
TIP: Walk away from your story for a little bit. I suggest at least 15 minutes per page (So 100 pages is 1500 minutes or 25 hours.) This keeps your mind ready to see mistakes.
- Check for clarity. I read through with a highlighter and mark up anything that does not sound authentic or I mentally stumble over. I suggest you do the read through while marking it up and fix it afterward. This keeps your mind in flow without stopping every paragraph to re-write.
- Check your words. This is different from clarity because you are looking at the descriptions and words you use. You want to use the best word for what is in your head. Did he walk upstairs or did he trudge upstairs? Trudge is far more expressive. Are you using all five senses in your writing? Keep your dictionary handy for this part.
TIP: “Sin & Syntax” is my go to reference book for this part.
- Check grammar and spelling. I put this near the end because you are changing words and format up to this point. However, I do fix some as I go in prior steps just because they bug me.
KEY: Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t try to look for all the problems on the first read through.
- Read it aloud. This by far is the hardest part. But you are so close. Reading out loud forces your mind to catch things you will have missed in prior edits.
Congratulations! You have revised a book and are ready for beta readers! I personally do not get any beta readers prior to a thorough revision. No one (especially an agent or publisher) wants to read a book with the above issues rampant on every page. Best to be polite and do the work now.
What process do you use for revision? Did any of these suggestions work well for you?