Revising, Editing & Rewriting Your 1st Draft

I am not going to lie. I was completely unprepared for the revision process. I have written several 1st draft novels. However, I never had any intention of publication or sharing those works with others so I never went beyond the 1st draft.

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(Keep Reading for more insight on what I learned.)

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Fast forward to the completion of my rough draft of Everside. What a fantastic feeling it was to finish and print it. I was so excited to begin the revisions . Eager to polish this story for publication. I did some research. I scheduled a date for an editor to do a developmental edit after the completion of the 3rd draft.

I read through my novel. I made notes. I dove into overhaul my 1st draft. That is when it hit me. I have no idea what I am doing. Yes, I am confident in my writing skills. I have spent my entire life writing, studying writing, crafting books and characters.

Revising, rewriting and editing has me feeling like a fish out of water. Each time I dive into this project I find myself stopping to consult articles, video’s, and books to aid in the process.

Next up, toss in that issue that often plagues me. Perfectionism. I have conquered my perfectionism in writing by constantly reminding myself that my job is to get the novel written. This helps me write quickly and avoid writers block. I finished my 62,000 word novel in less than 3 months because I focused on getting it written not getting it perfect. It worked like a charm.

Now what? I have an imperfect but finished novel. The problem is not the imperfect work. A rough draft should not be perfect. The problem is that I am struggling again with perfection. I need to make my story better, polished, and ready to readers to get lost in. Fear has set in.

Vlog Post: What I learned about Editing

janice & darrenare having a baby boy!please join us for a shower

How do I go on? What is my next step? Why am I not making the progress I would like? These questions have plagued me this month. Are you in the same boat?  I have some solutions for you. I wish I had these solutions before I started.

How  To Begin the Process of Writing, Revising, and Self Editing your 1st draft. 

  1. Take a Break:  After finishing your draft take a 2-4 week break before the next step. I heard this advice and ignored it. It was a huge mistake. You need time to rest, celebrate and distance yourself from your story. If you are new to the revision process I recommend you use part of this break to take care of step two. Trust me, you and your work need this.
  2. Research and Study Revision, Rewriting, and Self Editing.  Scour the web, youtube, podcasts, books, writer friends, and every resource you can find to arm yourself with knowledge and tools that you will need for the next step. As you do this, take notes and begin building a plan and timelime line for completing the 2nd draft.
  3. Put the plan on paper: Now that you have an idea what the process and timeline looks like, I recommend putting it on paper. This will help you when you get stuck or sidetracked. You need to know exactly what you are going to do. I will be sharing my personal plan in another post.
  4.  Do a complete read through. Then read it again. This time make notes about any character, plot or setting issues that need to be addressed.
  5.  Write an outline of your book. Yes, you may have an outline that you used to write. However, you need an outline of what actually happened in your book.
  6. It is time to gather your notes and your outline. Read your draft again and decide what changes need to be made.
  7. Start the editing, revision, and rewriting process. Don’t feel you need to start with chapter one. Start with the major changes and work your way down to the smaller issues. If you have a huge plot issues to address you don’t want to waste time editing the little stuff that may be cut or changed due to the bigger issue.

So there you have it.  This is the information I have gleaned from my own process, the knowledge of seasoned writers, and a few good writing reference books.

Do you have any suggestions or tips for me? I would love to hear from you.

One Comment Add yours

  1. westonjd says:

    Hey, April

    Great post and totally true. We need a voice on a megaphone that when were finished our manuscripts, saying…”Step away from the book. Hey you there, the guy with sunken eyes and coffee shakes, step away from that book (and get dressed!)”

    Seriously, at the point in which a book is about to be finished, the last few chapters are so exciting, and were so engulfed in our story that we should not be allowed to make decisions…on anything.

    I’m a photographer and have been writing for a while now too, and its the same for photography. When I’m finished editing a series of shots for a client, “Step away from the laptop.” Looking at them with fresh eyes in the morning is hugely beneficial. I’ll often pick up on editing errors that would of been a huge slap to the forehead had I sent them off last night.

    When it comes to writing, I write 2000 words a day for 5 days a week, (plus all the other stuff that they didn’t us about) and then print it all off to read in the pool or at the beach with a big red pen at the weekend. That way I don’t feel its so much of a chore.

    I do this chapter by chapter mostly, so that once I have a printed chapter of red pen marks and I know I have to put some time towards turning those red pens into edits on my manuscript, its just another step in the workflow then and I haven’t had to do it all sat at my desk while everyone else is out enjoying the summer.

    One more thing I do, and have always done is to re-read the previous chapter of my book every day, before I’ve written anything. This gets me into the mindset of my main character and the scene, plus allows me to spot errors in advance, that are then easier to remember come editing time.

    We’re all different and that’s what works for me. I make it fun. Or take it somewhere fun.

    Best

    John

    Like

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