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On To Revisions

I finally finish the first draft of my novel! Now on to revisions, and feedback from Beta Readers.

I'm so out of my depth here. *despairs*

I've come to fully appreciate the harsh fact that anyone can write a story, but making it good is the hard part. Taking it apart and putting the piece back together in the best sequence, catching the discrepancies in character development, worldbuilding, plot holes. Making sure the narrative voice is constant, the actions believable, and the flow of the story is paced well. This is were so many fledgling writers trip up, lose focus or abandon the story, and I don't want to be one of those 'ex-writers'. Revisions take a deeper understanding of the craft.

Again, SO totally out of my range of knowledge here.

I've never had to edit or revise anything more than, say, 10 or so pages, and never before a full length novel I wrote myself. Do you know what? It's HARD. If I thought I was a novice writer, I'm a lowly amoeba when it comes to revising. I've been poking at the manuscript printout for a few days, a little fearful of the length (303 pages at the moment), and a little lost on what to do first. Do I go through and fix wording, rip out all the that's, -ly's, and general over usage? Do I read and make notes on what to fix, change, remove or add? Do I twiddle my thumbs and wait for the Beta Readers to finish and let me know what they think? Huddle in the corner as the monster of revisions looms over me?

Eh. I'm not one to cower from a challenge. I'm just unsure of what to do next. I can edit 10 or 20 pages easy, but I've done that type of thing two hours before a paper is due. This is NOT one of those things to rush, and so I sit here pondering my next step. A few idea's of what to do have come to mind, among them the notion I should trash the whole thing and admit I'm a horrible horrible writer and should never darken the eyes of any being with my bad words. I won't! I promise! Still, I guess it's my turn to feel insecure about my work.

As I type this, my mind is getting somewhat clearer. I'm going to finish the outline a Writing Buddy requested, so she can help point me in the right direction in terms of overall sequence. I'll start character outline's and arcs, and go through a detailed synopsis of each subplot and the major plot. I should also work on the over-arcing plot of the series, maybe even start outlining the next book.

I suppose right now is not the time for words, but for planning. I've done all I can in my head, thinking on different aspects of the story while grocery shopping or cleaning. I haven't really looked at the novel since I finished NaNoWriMo, except to tag in the ending. But now it's time to sit down with post-its and pens, stand before my whiteboard with it's markers, and pull apart the story without touching the manuscript.

Still, if anyone has any hints, tips, or ideas, I'd love to hear them. *nervously eyes manuscript*


  1. Don't twiddle while you wait for me ;) Write something new! Write the sequel! Or try your hand at something totally different. Just keep yourself busy. Otherwise you will go crazy... uhh, trust me on that one. Been there, done that... own a couple t-shirts.

  2. Amanda says:

    I'm afraid I have no tips. My first novel sucked. Terribly. So much that I didn't look at it for two years, and then I rewrote it, keeping almost nothing from the original story, and absolutely nothing from the original text. I had to let it sit that long just to become something I could think about again. Looking at it now, there was nothing I could have done to fix it except rewrite the whole thing. My second novel - which I only got 40k into - was not as bad, but I was still learning how to write a novel and it would have gone nowhere. It was not until the third and fourth novel that I figured out how to write an overall plot arc. I plan to rewrite - from scratch - that 40k book beginning one day, but it hurts so much to give up all those words and all the time and passion I put into it. :(

  3. Yeah, it's going to be a doozy. I've only had to go back and revise my short story so far (11k words at 30+ computer pages). That was a lot of hard work, I can only imagine what a full novel will be like. I'm hitting the end of my first draft, so I'll be in the boat with you too very soon. Hopefully it doesn't sink...

    When I was revising my short story I fixed as I read, but I also made notes (as I'm doing with my current book) as to what needed to be changed. Sometimes I put them in the same location as the grievous error, and other times I listed them at the top of my story to go over and fix up later. There is certainly no way to do it all on the first pass. You'll get lost far too often, so just take notes and come back to it when you can or fix a problem that spans the whole book. Depends entirely on what works for you, and I think that is one of those things that is going to be unique for everyone.

    Good luck!

  4. nomadshan says:

    It's hard to do, but I recommend you wait. Work on the outlines and arcs you mentioned, but don't look at the manuscript until January. Reason: when you do finally look at it, you'll have some mental distance ("I wrote that?") and emotional distance ("Good thing I have emotional distance, because I need to toss out this character/ scene/ chapter.") My routine (so far) is to put the manuscript away for 4-6 weeks (I usually only last 4). When I open it again, I print it and do a read-thru where I make notes on plot issues, consistency problems -- big picture stuff (structure problems stick out here). Then I go through and make necessary big-picture changes. Afterward, I read it through aloud and fix clunky language, grammar errors, etc. Only then, when it's in second draft, do I give it to beta readers.

    Helpful, I hope!

  5. Thanks so much, everyone, for stopping by!

    @Eisley - lol I'm definitely going to do something while I wait, or else I'll just keep worrying "What if they don't like it?!?!" I do have some knitting to do....

    @Amanda - Ugh, I remember you telling me that. I'm hoping I don't decide this MS sucks bad enough to have to leave it for that long. And hey! At least you're still writing! Even better than back then too.

    @Clifton - I have so many notes too, but it's mostly little stuff. "Go back and change 'my father' to 'my uncle' or something lol. True that revisions are just as unique as writing to each writer, just hoping I find a process that works really well for me lol.

    @nomadshan - I've waited for about... *counts* 3 weeks. I don't think I can last very much longer lol. I know holding off for 4-6 wks is the basic advice, but I'm not sure if it's what works for me. I think I do need to do the outlines and arcs, though, to help me visualize the overall story flow. I like the idea of working from the big picture stuff on down, which means I'll be less likely to fall into the Little Things trap, or get too close to the characters again.

    Thanks so much for the tips, everyone! Hopefully things won't get too crazy around here lol.


  6. Diandra says:

    I rewrite and edit as I write. Terrible habit, I know. Usually I write a portion, give it out to my beta readers and plow ahead. When I get their response, I go back over it and fix what they spotted. At the moment I am halfway through what I want to write, and my beta readers have helped me a lot with story holes that would have prevented me from moving on with the story if I hadn't fixed them.

    And whem I'm done with this 1.5th draft - hmpf, I guess I'm going to give it some time and then start over again. Don't know exactly. I usually fix everything at once, but I am convinced this is not necessarily the best way to work on something as complex and delicate as a novel...

    However, I hope all the best for your novel - and I hope to read it some day!

  7. @Diandra - I've a friend who does just that, and she really likes it alot- her writing buddies have been with her for ages, so they know her really well and can tell when she's not being true to her voice in any portion she gives them. I used to edit as I go too, but then it'd take me forever, and I'd get confused on the way lol.

    Thanks for the well wishes! Hope to read yours, and everyones, and mine too rofl.


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