The Writing Process: Revision

By: Jannelle

re·vise | \ ˈrē-ˌvīz,  ri-ˈvīz\
Definition of revise
1: an act of revising REVISION
2: a printing proof that incorporates changes marked in a previous proof


There are some key differences between this, the revision stage, and the editing stage that follows shortly. In this post we will be going over some of those key differences and giving you some techniques to make great revisions.

After you have a draft it’s time to celebrate, you have finished a book! Not many people ever even get to this point in the process, so congrats you have made it, you are now a writer with a book and everything!

One small problem, it’s likely that your book is bad, like high school students rushing through a late essay assignment the class period before 3rd period English, atrocious. So now it’s time to revise that bad boy into readable work.

If you are someone who can write a perfect first draft you are very rare, and I don’t know why you are still reading my work; cause I don’t have much more to teach or share with you that could improve your work at this point.

If you are like everyone else, the revising stage of the writing process will put you on the path to crafting your first draft into a masterpiece. The revising phase has many defining elements to it. It can and will take you as long to revise and edit your book as it did to write your first draft, which is why it is so important to just get everything out and get on your way with the first draft.

I go over this and many more first draft tips here, The Writing Process: Drafting.

Revising is more focused on the structure of your work whereas editing is more focused on the fine tuning and polishing of everything. The two can seem very similar until you’ve been through them a couple of times, but here’s the low down.

Revising is the kind of editing you shouldn’t be doing late game. This is a time to see if you need to rework chapters, take out characters, patch any and all possible plot holes, etc. Those types of things are not what you need to be doing in the next to last step so do them here. As well as add anything that needs to be added to you story in order to make it all it needs to be, take out the lulls or in the very least work them in a way where they lull a lot less.

Over all revising is more focused on the structure of your work, the bones were laid out in the planning and plotting phase, drafting is about making the piece takes shape with the flesh and meat of your story and here in the revising stage we are simply making sure that your perfect creation is not in fact a horrible monstrosity that should be inflicted on no one.

Many writers will go between drafting and revising several times before they get to the final stages of their writing process.

I have had times where several chapters in the early part of a project were slow paced, just because those chapters were my way of getting a feel for the story I needed to tell. However those chapters were necessary for me to write a good story, they are not necessary for my readers to endure. At the time it hurts to cut out several thousands of words from your manuscript, but as a writer I would rather cut those parts in order to craft a strong and enticing beginning.

Revising is not all about cutting out parts and pieces either. This is the time to add in everything that was left out from the drafting stage. If you are like me, I leave lots of notes as I write about facts, or descriptions I want to add later as I am drafting. I do this as a way to not interrupt the rhythm of my writing when I am first putting everything down on that page, or blank screen.

I guess now is the time to also introduce the over writer and under writer as well, I will have a whole separate post on this coming out in the future.

I fall into the category of over writer. My first drafts can be wordy and dance around the point, clouded by language. So I often have to cut more out in the revision stage than I have to add in. This is likely why I am stressing the point here, however I am aware that is not the case for all.

For under writers, you may struggle with keeping up your word count. Here in the revising stage you can go back and pump up all those areas that need a little more content until you are content with the outcome.

Overall the revising part of the process is where you as the writer will decide if changes need to be made in your manuscript to make everything work and flow well together.

How will I know when I have finished revising?

This is a question many writers struggle with. Being aware of the editing process is a good way to know, by asking is this piece ready for editing?

I have another post dedicated to The Writing Process: Editing, you can check it out now. As you will see there are some key differences between the revision stage, and the editing stage that follows.

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