Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I've got a system for writing up until about the sixth draft. First draft = mess with some glimmers of ideas. Second draft = flesh out ideas, but still messy. Third draft = work on plot. And characters. And...well, everything. Fourth draft = look at worldbuilding. Feel some despair. Keep at it. Fifth draft = polishing characters and plotlines more. Sixth/seventh draft = examine awkward parts again. Make them less awkward. Write, read, repeat.

It is after this point that I'm trying to figure out stuff. And I came up with an idea that seems to be working--usually I try to work on a chapter a day when I revise, but this time I broke up my book into sections. Some of them are a couple pages long, while others are a mere three paragraphs, but I put all my focus into making one section (or so) good a day. This is time consuming. I'm surprised, though, at how much better I'm making my eighth book just by breaking it down. I feel like my manuscripts are always this close, and I'm hoping that this time I can figure out more about the magical process of rewriting.

Some more tips from here. Tell me if you have any nifty revision tricks!


  1. I used to go through nine drafts for every book. It was exhausting! I had a lot of free time then (as a student) so it worked ok, but once I had to work full time I had to figure out a better system. So as much as I hate to outline, I've found that a bit of pre-planning really cuts down on my revisions. I can do two drafts and a polish now instead of nine drafts.

    Here's what I do:

    -- Map out important world-building things, character sketches, etc. Instead of spending a lot of time filling out character forms like I used to, I chart out their individual character arcs -- what do they want, who are they at the beginning, who are they at the end, that sort of thing. And then additional fun stuff like picking out theme songs or whatever other creative stuff I want to do.

    -- I write a super-fast first draft, often long-hand, that's more of a glorified outline than anything. I find that writing something in draft form is easier than trying to do a more structured outline.

    -- Once that draft is done, I type it up (if I did it long-hand) and clean it up as I go along. With short stories, sometimes that's the only real editing I need to do. With novels, not so much.

    -- I do revision prep: First, I write a 35-word pitch, a 250-word pitch and write down all of my themes (and reiterate my character arcs, since sometimes they change). Then I make a list of all of the scenes, effectively outlining/making a beat sheet AFTER it's written. That way, if it has major structural issues, I can tell right away and correct them in the outline first.

    -- Then I work through it a chapter at a time, correcting everything as I go.

    This whole thing is a modified version of Holly Lisle's "one pass revision" method and it works really well for me so far.

    /ceases rambling about process

    1. I completely understand the nine drafts--I'm not an outliner (so far), but my third book is teaching me that sometimes outlines are a very good thing. Thanks for sharing your method! I may borrow from it once I'm done with these revisions... :)

  2. I'm revising at the moment too! I'm trying to tackle at least three chapters a day (they're very short chapters), which is just about manageable. That way, I can see roughly how long the revisions will take me. At least, that's the plan!

    1. Good plan! I always need a plan. I love plans.

      Yay for Samara!

  3. I hate revising - so well done you for working out a system!! I know what you mean, as well, about feeling like your books are always THIS close. Same. I guess how I do things is learned from how I read for the agent I intern for: After about two week away to clear my head, I do a whole read through without stopping to mark, or edit, or correct anything (actually hard!) That way, I see how it reads as a book. Then I write down anything that hits me about characters or plot or structure, or anything that slows it down. Then if I have any major things, like the beginning lasts too long, or the middle drags, I start rewriting from scratch, incorporating some ideas in. So, when the major rewrites are done, I move onto chapter by chapter.
    Not a science, but my last novel was called polished by a few agents - as they were rejecting me, but still! :0)
    Good luck with your revisions!! xx

    1. Oooh..."polished." I'm excited you're working on a new novel, and I'll have to send my revisions your way and see what you think! Thanks for the luck...I need it!