A newsletter distributed by THE WRITER offers ten revision strategies. I couldn’t help comparing their procedure to root canal. Frankly, I prefer a less painful and simpler approach. I’ve decided to share mine with you as I’ve been doing revisions on my 5th Kim Reynolds mystery novel, THE BLOOD FAMILY.
Stage one: I begin a novel by percolating it in my brain for sometime. It might be months or even years before I’m ready to create a rough outline and do a character bible. Usually a character bible comes before the outline. So that is stage two.
Stage three consists of writing an outline followed by the first draft. I try to write it through without much in the way of correction. I’m also flexible with my initial outline. I then put the draft away for a time and work on other projects.
Stage four: I return to my first draft and read it through. If it no longer appears the brilliant writing I initially thought it to be, I might drop the work. However, if in fact the manuscript seems solid, I begin revising. I am now wearing my editor’s hat.
Stage five: How many revisions will the work need? That depends. Some novels need a great many. Others go smoothly with just a few. However, self-editing is a demanding process.
I used to hand write all of my work in the initial first draft. But with the last few books, I’ve been writing them on my computer. I now prefer this method. It’s not only faster but I can study the writing more critically and accurately early on.
If you’re going to be a professional writer, you must be honest about your work. There are more people writing than ever before and fewer people reading print. Opportunities have diminished. So you need to really want to write and be willing to put in the effort to be competitive.
Revision is a necessary component of the writing process. We writers are fallible. We are human and therefore make errors. No matter how often I go over my own work, I always find ways I can improve upon it. I accept the fact that I make mistakes and do my best to correct them before I send my work out to editors—who will always demand further revision before a manuscript becomes a book.
My advice for successful self-editing and revision—pretend you are a professional editor. It’s painful to rewrite and remove sections of your work, but you have to be honest about it. Are there parts that are repetitious and redundant? Put them on the chopping block. Good writing is all about re-writing. We want our writing to be crisp and precise. We need to cut out the clichés and strive for originality.
Your comments welcome.