So many writers I know want to rush through their revisions. If they get feedback from an editor, they are determined to turn the manuscript around in two weeks, three at most. Me? I want to give myself time to internalize the feedback. I also enjoy seeing the manuscript change and grow. Why rush it?
In truth, writers really need to love revision. You rough out the manuscript once. Once you have a manuscript and have given it time to rest, you are ready to revise. And you aren’t going to do it in one draft. My process looks something like that.
- Horrible, scary, terrible, no-good first draft. Okay, maybe it isn’t that bad but I’m often just slapping it down at this stage. There are even gaps because I don’t take the time to look up missing information. I just type myself a note. FIND OUT WHEN THIS WAS AND WHO WAS THERE. Then I move on.
- During this draft, which is the first revision, I fill in gaps. I also look for things that need to be shifted from one spot to another.
- Are any sections slight? This is when I bulk them up. Not that I want them to feel bulky but there has to be enough information to justify a stand alone chapter or section.
- Can’t manage that? Then I combine sections or split something too dense in two. I’m looking to create balance in this draft.
- Now is when I smooth things out and check the reading level. Too high or too low? This is the time to make adjustments and make it flow.
- At last, I print it out and my husband reads it. Then I take care of any issues he spotted and do a hard copy rewrite. I always do one rewrite on paper because there are problems that I miss until I see them in print. This is also when I cut excess words. Again, I spot things on paper that I wouldn’t see on-screen.
That makes for six drafts total although sometimes I can do it in four. Either way, that’s one first draft and three to five revisions. You really need to love revision to make your writing work.