When Do You Revise?

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Not everyone writes the same way. My friend Pat likes to work in the library. I prefer writing in my home office. But another way we all differ is when we revise.

As You Write

Some of us revise our work as we write. When I use this technique, I sometimes go over what I wrote the day before, tightening and adjusting the previous days work. Only then do I begin to write something new.

This helps me to see where I left off before I try adding to the manuscript.

Still I know that I don’t catch everything because I don’t have the big picture in mind. I need to know what happens in scene 6 to set up scene 1. That’s why I also revise . . .

After I’ve Completed a Full Draft

The best way for my to revise the manuscirpt as a whole is after I’ve completed a full draft. In fact, that’s what I have to have when I rework things using Darcy Pattison’s Novel Metamorphosis. To use Darcy’s techniques to study pacing, character and balance you have to have the full manuscript down.

And really? How else are you going to envision the whole? You need to have a full draft! But to do this best you need . . .

A Lengthy Absence

I try to set a manuscript aside for a month before I come back to it. This isn’t generally possible for my work-for-hire projects, but I do it when I can.

An absence of a month or more means that everything isn’t fresh in my mind. When I reread the manuscript after a lengthy absence, it is easier to see what I laid down in the manuscript vs what I planned to write. The two are generally somewhat different from each other.

When I make notes on my manuscript, I first read it through in a single sitting. No comments. No notes. To enable myself to do this, I will keep a pad of post-its and stick one on a page where I spot something I want to address. But no notes! I need to see the whole.

When I’ve read the whole thing, I take notes. Fix this. Do that. Add this in. Take that out. Then I reread it all again. Now is when I mark things up. When I think I’ve got it close to perfect, that’s when I need to go through it with Darcy’s book. She and I approach our writing differently so her techniques reveal things I wouldn’t catch on my own.

So – when do you revise? Do it do it one time and then submit your work? Or do you do it several times before you give it to your critique group?


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