Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. -Anne Lamott (part 3 on writing and publishing)

Revision.  For some writers it’s the bane of their existence.  For others, it’s their favorite part.  I’m probably somewhere in the middle.  I love plotting, so I love the first draft, but there’s also something satisfying about cutting unnecessary scenes, making characters more three-dimensional, making the setting more rich, and having those “aha” moments that make the whole story better.

I know every author’s process of revising is going to be different, but I’ll share a little bit about mine.  First, I just read through the manuscript with track changes on.  As I read, I make small changes to things like misspelled or missing words, a sentence that is just clunky, or adding little details that pop into my head.  I DON’T make huge plot or setting changes.  Instead, I mark things that I know need work and make comments about what I want to change in those scenes.  Those might be scenes I don’t think are necessary or scenes I need to add or even plot points that aren’t working or may have a whole in them.

Once that is done, I usually let it sit for a few weeks.  This gives me some perspective.  Of course, during this time, I don’t stop thinking!  The things I marked as needing changes are in the forefront of my mind.  Sometimes, without even consciously trying, solutions for some of the problems just pop into my mind.  Other times, those solutions are HARD to find.  And sometimes there isn’t a solution at all and an entire section has to be completely rewritten.

When I go back to the manuscript, I work on those larger changes.  I move scenes around.  I write new ones.  I delete old ones.  I add description.  I make sure my words are pretty.  I look at dialogue tags and make sure there aren’t too many but that there are enough.  I look at character growth and make sure there is some.  Basically, I look at the rough first draft and polish it until it feels like something I could let someone read!

And then that’s what I do.  I let people read it.  These are called beta readers and I’ll have a whole post next time on how great they are and how every author needs them!