Wednesday on Writing: What Does Revision Look Like?

Well, for me at least, it looks something like this: revisesmall

Yes, I do my revising, at least the first pass, on paper. It seems to help me if I can mark on, scribble notes, cross out, highlight, and rewrite sentences on an actual piece of paper. Later passes will probably get done on the computer, but they (hopefully!) will require less changes than this first revision.

I also keep side notes as you can see. For this particular story, which is #3 in a series, I also have a computer document with details from the previous stories that I reference in this one. I can’t keep it all in my head once, so while I am drafting if I need to know where did I say that piece of magical charcoal come from, I will just write “charcoal” in the story itself, change the text to red, and now, I can go look it up in the previous stories. Sometimes, the details are more than I can fit on the paper so I copy/paste into a references document and then when I am typing up the revisions in the story, I have the details to pick and choose as I need.

I make general notes on loose leaf, as well. If something needs to be tweaked across the whole story (a character’s overall voice, perhaps), I will make note of that on the general list. On the paper copy, I highlight whatever spelling and punctuation issues jump out at me (though I am not overly concerned with those right now), rewrites of sentences, things to add or take out, and other changes.

After I’ve gone through the whole story, I will take all the notes and changes, and start putting them into the main story document. Once that’s done, it’s time for a reread, and either another revision pass (if I find something glaring) or I will send it to beta readers for feedback.

That’s my basic process for a first revision. Other writers have different ways of approaching this step. We all work differently and no one way is the only way. Whatever gets you through the work and lets you finish with a better story is the right way for you.


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