This blog was featured on 07/05/2016
10 Ways to step up your revisions

Finishing your draft seemed like the hard part of writing a book, until you received revisions from your editor. WOW! Pages upon pages of red ink - either literal or digital - can be intimidating. But rest assured, everyone from your beta readers to your publisher has the same goal in mind: to make your book the best it can be. From debut to bestselling authors, our She Writes community is very experienced with revisions. 

When it's time to begin revising your book draft, consider these tips and lessons from authors who have gone before you.





Embrace the process

Revisions can be frustrating, but novelist Ann Heitland shares her approach to revisions. Sometimes a little attitude adjustment can make all those notes seem a little less intimidating.


Read: Back from the Beta Readers and Thoughts on Revisions






Step back

Taking an objective approach and indiscriminately marking out words, phrases and complete paragraphs is difficult when you've just spent so long carefully crafting these pages. Kamy Wicoff, founder of She Writes, explains her thought process when it comes to self editing. Hint: it takes courage.


Read: Decisions and Revisions Which a Minute Will Reverse 







Keep going

After your book is written...then what? Author Reese Ryan shares her experience editing two, three and even four drafts of her novel before landing a publisher. It's true that writing your book is just the beginning. 


Read: Reality Check: What They Don't Tell You - Writing the Story is Only the Beginning







Be prepared

Book revision and editing are harder and take longer than the actual writing of your book. So be prepared to stay with it for the long haul before you start. Madeline Tasky Sharples shares how it took her eight drafts to get where she needed to be.


Read: Make the Decision to Do the Hard Work Before You Start to Write a Book






Consider starting over

There are definitely two camps of revisers: those who work within the existing scene, tweaking words and phrases, going back again and massaging the draft until it feels just right; then there are those who boldly highlight, delete, and begin working again. You'll find your groove, but when one method isn't working consider trying a new approach.


Read: What's Next - Blank Slate






Post-its could save your life

Time, place, backstory...they can easily get lost when you're deep in the revising stage. Have you already addressed this revision, in whole or part? Was it earlier or later in your manuscript? Sheila Grinell, author of Appetite from She Writes Press, shares how bad news from her editor turned into a color-coded poster board that saved her draft. Writer Marivi Soliven shares how post-it notes got her compliment from a senior editor a Penguin Books in her post, The Home Stretch - Revising that Novel.  







Develop thick skin

There's no way around it, you WILL receive criticism during the revisions process. Just remember that this criticism is meant as constructive, to help you create a better manuscript. Chelsea Greer shares exactly how to take your draft from rough to polished.


Read: A Writing Misconception







Do it your way


Author Tayari Jones received a critical piece of advice from her mentor Ron Carlson: "Do whatever you need to do to survive the draft." Sometimes she sprinted, sometimes she crawled. The important thing is finishing. 


Read: Surviving the Draft - Pushing Your Book Over the Finish Line 






Embrace imperfection

Jill Jepson kept her first book to herself, revising and editing and sharing with only a few people. For her first foray into YA, she chose to share her manuscript as she went along. Should you do the same? 


Read: What I Have Learned from Leaping Off the Cliff







Change your POV

Sometimes, it's simply impossible to "kill your darlings." Especially when your whole draft has become your darling. In these cases, it can be helpful to change your perspective and reframe the entire manuscript. Daunting, yes, but effective, too. 


Read: Reality Check - What if Your Whole Book is Your Darling?






What have your experiences with revisions been? Share your advice with your fellow She Writers in the comments below!

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  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    At the moment I have many things I am changing about my first draft.  Tried to write it through NaNoWriMo twice. Also, I am contemplating changing my whole POV scheme and style.  Can one have a novel driven by both plot and character, or is it one of the other?  Is it better to have a character's personality drive the plot?

  • Lisa Thomson

    This is an awesome round up! Thank you for sharing these posts. I'm in mid-edit after the pro edit red pen so I can totally relate to the lengthy process. I had to stop for a while and now I'm ready to go back and hope to have improved objectivity.