Five Steps To Improve Your Revision Process

I love the rewriting and redrafting process.

Once I finished my first draft of A Time of Stones, I printed the whole thing out and did the first pass with handwritten notes.

I write all kinds of notes in the margins and scribble and cross things out. I note down new scenes that need writing, continuity issues, problems with characters and much more. That first pass usually takes a while. Then I go back and start a major rewrite based on those notes. After that’s done, I will print again and repeat the process, but that usually results in fewer changes.

Within the repeated process, there are a few things that will help that revision your manuscript shine.

(1) Structural edit/ Editorial review

A structural edit is a must for your first book or the first book in a series. A structural edit is usually given to you as a separate document, broken down into sections based on what is being evaluated.

It looks at the overall structure and content of your book but, unlike a developmental edit, the editor should be making the changes for you.

(2) Beta readers

Beta readers are a trusted group of people who evaluate your book from a reader’s perspective. You should only give them the book if you are happy with it yourself because otherwise, it is disrespectful of their time.

This could be a critique group, although I prefer a hand-picked group of 5 or 6 who bring different perspectives. I definitely have a couple of people who love the genre I am writing in as they will spot issues within the boundaries of what is expected, and then some people who consider other things.

My main rule with beta readers is to make changes if more than one person says the same thing.

(3) Line Edits

You can get one of these edits before or after the beta readers, or even at the same time. I prefer afterward as I make broader changes to the book based on their opinions so I want the line editor to get the almost final version.

Line edits are more about word choice, grammar, and sentence structure. There may also be comments about the narrative itself but this is a more a comment on the reading experience by someone who is skilled at being critical around words.

(4) Revisions

You’ll need to make more changes based on the feedback of the beta readers and line editor. This can sometimes feel like a complete rewrite and takes a lot of detailed time as you have to check every sentence.

I usually make around 75% of the changes suggested by the line editor, as they are usually sensible, even though I am resistant at first. It is important to remember that you don’t have to change what they ask for though, so evaluate each suggestion but with a critical eye.

(5) Proof-reading

Proofreading only focuses on your spelling, grammar, punctuation, typos, and consistency. Essentially a proofread is like a more accurate version of spell check.

By this point, you cannot even see any mistakes you might have made. Inevitably, your corrections for line editing have exposed more issues, only minor ones.

What do you include in your revision process?

Post your comments and answers below. If you think someone has an interesting point of view and answer, please invite them or share this post with them.

#DWTSmith #revisionprocess


4 thoughts on “Five Steps To Improve Your Revision Process

  1. I think all five of these rules should be “get more beta readers!” — you can never have enough peer review. I’ve learned that the hard way. But I still struggle to find reader when I need them.