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Revision Time

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are you a nervous nail-biter when it comes to revisions? Don't be. Let's think positive about this potential issue that could reduce us to ruining our manicures.

I'm about to embark on revisions prior to turning in my second manuscript (tentatively named Chameleon) to my editor on April 5th. I'd really like to do my very best on this so that there is not so much to face when the macro-edit comes back to me. Chameleon is my second book in the Ravensmoore Chronicle series that will release in January of next year if all goes according to plan.

First, I'm one of those writers that could revise for a VERY long time. I don't like to call myself a perfectionist because I don't think I'm anywhere close to being perfect in my revisions, but I do want to improve each time I turn in a book. So here's my plan.

  1. Print out the entire novel.
          I could never begin to revise by sitting in front of my computer.  I have to have that hard copy to   read through, make notes, and get a feel of the overall pacing of the book.  I want to see if the chapters need to be lengthened or shortened.

     2.   Read the entire book.
          I try to do a quick read through to get a feel for the flow of the story. I'll mark up the manuscript as I go along and catch errors, but this first read through isn't so much of looking for errors as getting my first real complete feel of the book.

     3.  Read the book again/Ask Questions.

          This time I'm reading for errors. I'll also start rounding off the ends of chapters and doing my best to be certain those chapter hooks are strong enough to make the reader keep reading. And I'm going to try something different at this phase in the process because I liked the questions. Jordan Dane over at the Killzone did the crit on this one page Dead Girl Vistits TKZ. It Could Happen Be warned, this one page was too graphic and ghory for me. If you don't want to read it just skip to the questions Jordan leaves for the writer to answer.

     4.  Completion of the style guide.

          Honestly, I never knew what a style guide was until I got back my first substantive edit on my first book.  My publisher supplied a list of preferences for use of words, punctuation, etc. They also wanted me to make a list of what characters show up in the novel in order of appearance. A brief description of each chapter and other important issues. A timeline was one of those. So I'll be looking closely at this and completing it to the best of my ability this time. Live and learn.

     5.     Set the book aside.

            This is hard for me to do running this close to deadline. But I will set it aside for at least two days. I'd rather it be a week. I need that break to get some perspective.

     6.     Feedback

            Now I'll look at the feedback from my critique partners to make any last and necessary changes.

When I'm through all these steps I'll turn it into my editor and see what comes back. Hopefully, it won't be another rigorous revision. But even if it is, then I dive right into it.

I hope this helps you a little bit. Remember that I'm still learning as I go along and I sure don't have all the answers. This is working for me now, but I sure would love to be a faster writer so I'd have more time to revise. Lucky for me, I've got a wonderful publishing house, Charisma House. They really do know how to support a writer.

My favorite book on revisions is James Scott Bell's, Revision and Self-Editing. So tell me about your revision process and your favorite book on revisions.


  1. Jill, I wish you well on your revisions.

  2. Thanks Keli! I'm trying to develop a better plan each time that will work for me. Maybe some of it will help others.

  3. I'm with you Jillian! I just turned in my second manuscript and my revision process was much the same as yours. Like you, I'm hoping I did good work up front so that the editorial letter that comes back is not too overwhelming!

  4. Glad to hear that our process was similar, Anne. Way to go on getting the manuscript in. Even though I know the revision letter could be scary, I'm hoping for the best.

    I love this story as much as I loved my first one and I didn't think I would. That attachment to the first is special. The second book has been harder to write just because I stopped about 3/4 of the way through to focus on rewrites for the first book.

    This balancing act is complex for a series. Maybe it's like that for stand alone as well.

  5. I love the title Chameleon! Best with the last round of edits before submission. I know how that feels. :-)

  6. Thanks Rosslyn!
    I'm having one of those days with work, family, writing, etc. where I'd prefer to have a complete do over day. I bet there's a full moon headed our way. Sure feels like it.:)

  7. I just discovered writing this last year and have been plugging away on an inspirational, supernatural romance :) I just found your blog and love it!

    I would have to say I completely agree with you about the need to print the whole thing out in order to really revise it. I never cease to be amazed at the number of errors I find when looking at my manuscript on paper rather than on the computer screen!!

    I too have never heard of a style guide until just now. Is there a benefit to you to create one? Do you find that is something that helps you make edits or is it just something publishers require?

  8. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for stopping by. So glad you like the site. The revision process is a challenge isn't it? I'm hoping that some day it will actually be fun! Call me a crazy optimist but I hope it will really become something I look forward to.

    As far as the style guide goes, yes I think it helps. It's a good aid to keep track of your characters and what they look like, your timeline for the novel, and those little errors we may make in grammar too. I didn't realize for my first book that I'd lost track of the timeline that my characters needed. For instance, how many days or weeks have passed since something happened, etc. Hope that helps.