How I Tackle Revisions, Steps 1 & 2

It’s been over a month since my last writing post and for very good reason–I’ve been taking the first step toward revising my work-in-progress: letting it sit.

I’ve learned to set a first draft aside for at least a month. Often that’s hard to do, but with the holiday season, it was much easier. I spent two weeks making endless photo gifts for family members for Christmas–cards, books, calendars. I also had some revisions to do on DEXELON and sent out more queries. And finally, I brainstormed titles and started a query for the WIP. I think I’ve decided on the title, although I need to run it by some of my CPs to see what they think.

At the end of last week, I knew I’d let the manuscript sit long enough and it was time for step 2: the read-through. I’m pretty strict about how I do my first read-through. In order to get a good feel for big picture items, I don’t make edits while I’m reading. Now, if it’s a typo, I’ll fix that, but even if it’s something minor like strengthening a metaphor that isn’t quite right, I save it for later. Instead I make notes as I go, and they look a lot like the notes I would send someone else. Here’s a sample page from my Scrivener file:

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 1.25.05 PMBecause of the time I’ve spent away from the manuscript, I can approach it more as a reader than as the writer. I have to chuckle sometimes when I ask myself a question. If I don’t even know what I meant by something, it’s for sure no one else will!

I like this method because it allows me to point out minor things I want to spend more time on later and also work out the bigger picture items that need to be fixed. The notes are sometimes specific in what I want to do in a particular place, and other times they’re a brainstorming tool for me to work through the things I know aren’t there yet.

Having finished the read-through, I feel pretty good about this manuscript. It’s by no means ready for anyone else to read, but there are moments that made me go, “Yes!” They don’t yet outweigh the parts that aren’t ready, but I see the potential and have confidence that I will make it all work. The plus side of having written multiple manuscripts is that I have a pretty good idea of my weaknesses and what to look for even this early in the process.

I probably won’t get back to this manuscript until after the holidays, but I’m going to try something new before I dive into full revision mode. Taking the advice of several more experienced writers, I’m going to get inside the heads of some of the other characters and write scenes from their viewpoints, possibly even some scenes that don’t involve the MC at all. It’s clear after reading through the story again that I don’t fully understand the antagonist or love interest’s motivations, and I think writing a few scenes in their voices will help. It’s something new for me, so we’ll see.

What’s your strategy for tackling revisions? Do you let your first drafts sit or jump right in? How do you do your initial read-through?

Other How I Tackle Revisions posts:

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