Revising. No, it’s not a dirty word, but it can make you feel as if you need a long, hot shower. I know I need a break when I’m nearing my final pass, and I’m convinced I’ve written the same phrase seventy-two times in one chapter.
Over the years I’ve read many fabulous blogs, including Seekerville, and asked fellow writers for their revising tips. I’ve also devised my own methods. I’m sharing my top ten tricks today. This isn’t a step-by-step revising guide. Feel free to pick and choose the ones that appeal to you.
1. The first time you open a rough draft, grab a blank notebook and your favorite pen. Read the entire manuscript without making any changes. Instead, write your thoughts in the notebook.
“I don’t let myself tinker with the story when I’m reading it through (which is a huge temptation). I read it in order to get a birds-eye view… or more accurately, a reader’s eye view of the whole story from start to finish. So, I don’t tinker. But I do take copious notes re: what to fix later.” ~ Becky Wade, author of A Love Like Ours (A Porter Family Novel #3)
2. For initial revisions, focus on the big picture: plot, characters and tension. Ignore sentence structure, repeat words, and grammar issues at this point. You’re making sure the story works. Write weak areas down and brainstorm ways to beef them up.
In “A Four-Step Plan For Revision” from The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, Raymond Obstfeld describes the process this way, “Don’t give in to the temptation to fix something that’s not part of the step you’re pursuing. Keep in mind that each step has an ultimate goal, and achieving that goal is the whole point of a particular revision.”
3. Save your manuscript in a new file, single-space it, choose a new font, and change the size of the font. Print it out and red-line it.
4. Evaluate micro-chunks. Copy and paste the opening line of each scene into a new document. Read through these “hooks” and evaluate if they are strong enough. For a great article on hooks, read “Gotcha” by Tina Radcliffe in the Seekerville archives.
5. Mentally read the book in first person if you wrote it in third person or vice-versa. This helps with point of view. You'll notice where characters see things they shouldn't, and it will show weak areas in your writing.
6. For category romance novels, read the submission guidelines about viewpoint characters. The Love Inspired lines expect an almost equal split between hero and heroine viewpoints. To check your manuscript, quickly jot down the viewpoint character for each scene. If 75% of the scenes are in the heroine’s head, consider rewriting scenes in the hero’s point of view.
7. Skim the manuscript, noting where each scene takes place. If twelve scenes are in a coffee shop but none of the characters work there, consider “moving” some of these scenes to new locations.
8. Read your book for genre specific elements. If it’s inspirational fiction, is there a clear spiritual journey throughout the book? Or is the faith element introduced, then ignored only to be wrapped up at the end with no clear progression? If you write suspense, does every scene add to the reader’s tension in some way?
9. Read the manuscript out loud. You’ll be amazed at how many grammar issues come up.
Speaking of grammar, if you’re really ambitious, check your manuscript for these common copyedit issues listed in “Misery Loves Company: A Copyeditor’s Top 10” by Jamie Chavez.
“It would be good for you to consider this list for a variety of reasons, not least because it will probably make you feel better. But also, of course, because if you eliminate these errors from your repertoire, you’ll free your copyeditor up to find more important problems, without the distractions caused by these. And since you’re paying her by the hour, you’ll get off a little cheaper too.” ~ Jamie Chavez, developmental editor and writer.
10. Know when to quit.
“We can tighten the threads, sew new ones here and there, and switch things around. But the longer we rip and repair, the greater our chances of the finished product coming out looking frayed and shabby.” ~ “Self Editing: When Is Enough Enough?” article by Jody Hedlund author of An Uncertain Choice.
Next time you’re revising, keep your eyes fresh by trying some of these ideas! I’ve made several of them a permanent part of my revision process, and I’m always adding to my list.
Do you have a great trick to keeping your eyes fresh when revising? I’d love to hear it!
Thank you so much, Seekerville, for letting me be your guest today!
About Jill ~
Jill Kemerer writes inspirational romance novels with love, humor and faith. A full time writer and homemaker, she relies on coffee and chocolate to keep up with her kids’ busy schedules.
Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund, Jill adores magazines, M&MS, fluffy animals and long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website www.jillkemerer.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Small-Town Bachelor ~
A Place to Call Home
When Reed Hamilton arrives in Lake Endwell for a family wedding, he expects to do his part as best man then head back to the big city. But when a tornado postpones the wedding, the town is in shambles and Reed is injured. Thankfully maid of honor Claire Sheffield offers him one of her cottages to recuperate in.
Dedicated to her family and her dream job at the zoo, Claire is all about roots. She's this city slicker's opposite, yet as they help the town rebuild, Reed is captivated by her stunning looks and caring ways. He can't ask Claire to leave the life she loves for him, but he also can't imagine ever leaving her behind…
Interested in getting your own copy of Small-Town Bachelor? Click here to purchase!
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