The Revision Process

Back in February I talked about how I planned to do my first lot of revisions once I finished the first draft of my manuscript. Now I have finished those initial revisions, I am now doing more revisions (does it ever end !) so I thought I would dedicate a post to what my focus is in this part of the revision process. First a brief recap of what I did for my first lot of revisions.


Main focus: Structure and technical elements

1. Listen to chapter read aloud on ywriter and highlight flaws.

2. Read chapter, fix spelling and grammar and make additional notes.

3. Go back over highlighted parts of text and rewrite (highlighted parts generally indicate telling rather than showing and awkward phrasing)

4. Read aloud chapter to myself and fix anything else that stands out.


Main focus: Tightening manuscript and fixing plot flaws

1. Delete all unnecessary words, descriptions and anything not relevant to the plot. This includes getting rid of words like ‘that’ and backstory that contributes nothing to the plot. I also deleted the entire prologue.

2. Make a list of plot holes then go back and fix them.

3. Rewrite beginning (multiple times) until it hooks the reader.

4. Raise the stakes! Delete anything boring and add more conflict.

5. Restructure chapter breaks. Instead of ending chapters at mundane natural breaks (like falling asleep at the end of one chapter and waking up the next morning at the start of the following chapter) use chapter breaks in high-tension places to hook the reader into the next chapter.

6. Create more natural dialogue between characters.

7. Work with critique partner to pinpoint flaws I have overlooked and to see what impressions a reader would have of the manuscript in its current state.

What do you do when you revise? Do you follow a similar structure or do you revise in a completely different way?

10 thoughts on “The Revision Process”

  1. I do much the same, but in the opposite order — big pix fix first, and then worry about grammar and mechanics last. No point correcting spelling on a graph I might completely zap.

    Am in revisions cave now … guess we’re on this journey together!


  2. Thanks, this is very helpful. I wasn’t aware of ywriter; now I can’t wait to check it out. My own process includes editing as I write, first online, then by printing each chapter as I finish it and revising it on paper. I also read chapters out loud, and then the entire book out loud, usually more than once. The trick seems to be getting through revision without (a) losing your voice and (b) getting bored with the process.


  3. I am almost done with my first draft so Revision time is quickly approaching. This gives me some ideas on where to start and what to look for. Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us!


  4. Fantastic informative post. Thank you. My brain just doesn’t seem to like any structured attempts at editing though, one minute I’m going through it for dialogue the next I’m checking for plot holes that I stumbled on while looking at the dialogue…

    I like to keep 2 books by my side when I revise.
    1) Write Tight: How to Keep Your Prose Sharp, Focused and Concise by William Brohaugh
    2) Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King


  5. Glad you could find this post helpful, I’m always glad to share with fellow writers 🙂

    Aj – I found keeping a Word document open while I’m revising a great way to keep track of my thoughts. For example, if I’m fixing plot holes and I get an idea for character development, I note it down in the Word doc so I can come back and address it later, that way I don’t get sidetracked from fixing what I was already fixing.


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