Wednesday, September 1

10 Things You Should Know Before You Revise

I find everyone has a different take on the revision process. Some people believe it's easy and some people believe it's harder than writing the first draft. It's different for everyone, so both opinions are true. However, there are some things that are universal. Regardless of how you write,  these rules apply to you.
  1. Your second draft will take you longer than you think. Much, much, much longer. Set realistic deadlines. A couple of days is not realistic. People will laugh at you. Myself included.
  2. Your second draft will be just as hideous as your first, but in a different way. That means you shouldn't worry about being perfect. I promise you, it's never going to be perfect. I also promise you, this isn't your final draft.
  3. It doesn't matter what your writing style is, you'll need to do at least four drafts.*
  4. You will lose a ton of words by tightening and getting rid of passive voice in your story. If you "tighten" and you haven't lost a lot, you didn't do it very well. Trust me. Do it again.
  5. You will need junk food to make it through, even if you're a health nut.
  6. Don't plan on having any energy while revising. Even if you're one of the people who think revision is easy, you'll still be exhausted. You're editing your own story, after all. That's never an easy thing to do. Prepare for it. If you're not tired, you're either a freak and have too much energy, or you haven't torn your story apart enough.
  7. Find people who will listen to you whine and complain when you're having a bad day. Since it's not wise to throw a hissy on Twitter or Facebook for the whole world to see, you need an outlet. They're it. Once you're done revisions, you might want to send them thank-you gifts for putting up with you. Seriously. You're going to be so thankful they were there to help you. I know I am.
  8. While sympathy is always great, make sure you also have people who will smack you and tell you to get to work. If all you get is sympathy, you won't get any work done. You need a hug and a swift kick in the arse. Trust me on this one. It's even better if you can find both in one person. I happen to have three: Tina from Sweet Niblets, Melissa from Chasing the Dream, and of course, my mum. Without them, I wouldn't have finished the first draft, never mind the second or third.**
  9. Be prepared to hit The Wall. This might mean being ready with good books and lots of chocolate, or it might mean taking long naps and staying in your PJ's until 5 pm (true story). Whatever you think will help you specifically, prepare for it now.  After talking to numerous other writers, I've managed to narrow down The Wall's location to about a day or two away from the end of the final draft. Yes, cruel isn't it?
  10. Finally, take breaks. It's not a bad thing to take a few days off here and there. In fact, it's smart to take a break. Revisions are hard. Don't make it harder on yourself by burning out in the first couple of days. It also helps to work on a new story while you revise, that way you're still being creative on the side.
*Yes, four. This includes the last minute readthroughs.  Many people go through eight or nine drafts, so be happy if it only takes you four.*

**I'm one lucky duck, aren't I? Writing relationships are invaluable. If you don't have them, make them right now.  It's not just about having your stories beta read or critiqued (though, that's important too). Writing friends help you. They know what you're going through. More often than not, my writing pals (and my mum) help me through my dark spots and make me laugh. What's more important than that? Nothing.**


  1. are so sweet! I shall call you squishy...

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Every darn thing you listed is PERFECT!

  3. Good post! I'm totally over analyzing ever single word in my book now that I am revising. I need to step back and work on my outline so my second draft is not so rocky. Ugh, rough work.

  4. Excellent, excellent list! Hope your revisions are going a lot smoother than this list would indicate is typical.

  5. Amen Nat! I couldn't agree with you more. I'm halfway through revising chapter 1 (FINALLY) and it's so much harder than when I wrote the original.

    And I'm so glad I have you and Tina too! Not sure if I'd still be working on this ms if it weren't for the two of you. *hugs*

  6. Loved this list...thanks for all the reminders!

    PS-Just finished The Deathday Letter and LOVED IT!

  7. Great suggestions! I'm nearing the end of my first draft and looking forward to revising with excitment and trepidition.

  8. A HUGE Amen to number one. Helen's first draft took me less than a month. Her rewrite took me from April through August, and NOW I still have to edit and revise. WAY longer than I wanted it to take, that's for sure!

  9. Awesome list! All so, so true. I also found that sending bits out for critique gave me built-in rest periods. Finding a problem and not knowing how to fix it makes you want to tear your hair out, but sometimes in the whining process the solution comes to you. Private "sounding board" friends are invaluable!

  10. So true!!! Each and every rule! I'm in the middle of the exhausted rule. SO... tired... tired, tired, tired. I don't find revision easy, but I do enjoy it, if that makes sense. Even enjoying it, my eyeballs hurt and my brain aches. Maybe I should move into the junk food rule...

  11. Tina- And you shall be mine. You shall be my squishy. ♥

    Christine- Aww thank you! =)

    Dana- Thanks hun! I understand 100% I had the same problem. I had to stop and take a break so I didn't delete perfectly good words.

    Stephanie- Thanks hun! Haha yes and no. It's been a rough month ;) I do enjoy revising, it's just tough.

  12. Mel- IKR? You did a fantastic job on chapter 1 though =) But it is really tough. Definitely not rainbows and cupcakes-- but wouldn't that be great if it was? We'd want to revise ALL THE TIME. We'd also weigh about 500 pounds, but whatev =D Aww you're such a sweetie ♥

    Kristi- Thank you!!

    Andria- Oooo! It's a very exciting time, isn't it?? When I finished my first draft, I cried. I hope this list didn't scare you. Revisions can be SO MUCH FUN. They're just a lot of work, that's all =D

    Amalia- 1 MONTH? Girl, did you ever sleep?!?! And yes, I can understand that. Revisions take so much work. When I first started, I foolishly believed it would be easier since I'd be working with words already on the page. Yes, I fully admit I was delusional.

  13. Laurel- Thank you!! Oh yes, you're 100% right about that. I did the first 2 rounds of revisions by myself. Then I sent the whole thing to my alpha, revised, and now I'm sending it two chapters at a time to my betas. It works very well =)

    Di- Yes! It makes complete sense. I actually love revising. I like making my story all shiny =D Aww, sweets. I'm sorry. *hugs* If you need any help, let me know!!


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