It’s All In The Revisions #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #writetip

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

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Thank you Raimey!


This month, I’m reporting top tips to begin a second draft of a work in progress. I’ve learned the best advice is to settle my impatience and let the first draft sit to clear the canvas in my mind. My own first draft was completed back in March.  A reasonable amount of time has passed and I’ve since moved on to other projects.

So now that I’m ready to make revisions, I admit, I didn’t know where to start and I’m sharing tips from a great author, Marissa Meyer. She reflected over her process in draft two of Cressa. Please visit her post as she provides lovely details of her process.

Here goes her tips and a few simple reflections:

  1. Print out your first draft.
    Make notes of plot holes, questions, characters who may have been left out for lengthy chapters and need to be added back to remind the reader they exist. Ask yourself, how can I make life worse? What challenges can I throw into these scenes to add tension or correct realism in dialogue? How can I be mean to my characters I may have delicately danced over in the first draft?
  2. Import Draft One into Scrivener. Meyer used word to write her first draft. To begin her second draft, she imported everything into Scrivener. Have you tried it yet? I love it to pieces. Then use the synopsis note card and write two to three sentences to summarize each chapter.
  3. Plan the revisions from your notes.
    Start with the big holes or changes you would like to see. Review the changes you note are not working and plot new scenes, brainstorm character changes, and ways to fix the holes. For me, I have a character who drops off the planet half way through the book, for good reasons, but not the right emotional reasons. Fixing her location will most definitely create new details and new scenes. Fixing her location and creating new scenes will further enhance one of the major themes in my story and was dropped in the first draft. I don’t want it dropped.
  4. Revisit the plot structure. 
    Add the new scenes and revise old ones. Scrivener has a terrific cork board to drag and drop scenes. I love being able to move things around. I love Scrivener’s character and location templates. I may do some more research on specific locations I’ve picked in the book and add them to my notes.
  5. Focus on the subplots.
    Marissa Meyer mentions the first draft is about the larger plot. She takes more time in the second draft to flush out the details in subplots. For instance, backgrounds and histories and why characters do what they do. The subplots lead to deeper themes and plots readers crave. Once I rewrite the location of one of my characters, I’ll have satisfied some deeper emotional subplots of sisters and strengths and weaknesses in families and how together we create balance and solve problems we can’t always do alone.

So this is my plan. I’m starting this week. Wish me luck in the next few months and if you have any other tips on second draft revisions and organization, I’d love to hear it.

About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on September 19, 2018, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. So true – they say it’s in the re-writing that the magic happens 🙂

  2. Great tips Erika, as always !

  3. Louise@DragonspireUK

    Some great tips! I find printing out my work really does help. Good luck with your revisions 🙂

  4. Certainly better outlined than my process – print out and go through it!

  5. This is wonderful, Erika. I am working through Book 1 and 2 of my trilogy with no idea how to write Book 3. I am bookmarking this for that day.

  6. Looks like great advice. I start in Scrivener though. Oops. I do an outline in Word that I use for my index cards. So I guess I start in Word first as well. hehehe.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  7. Sounds like you have a solid plan. Good luck with the revisions!

  8. Such great tips! I’m just about finished my last major revision of my current manuscript. I’ve held off on Scrivener, but everyone keeps singing its praises, and so I may just have to break down and give it a go one of these days. I think YouTube is the key here for me. I need to see it in action and actually working. One tip that I have is to really think about the major things you want to make sure each of your chapters/scenes has, write a list, and refer to it each time before you start revising a scene/chapter. That helps me a lot. Things like: Do each of my scenes have conflict/tension? Do each of my scenes use one or more senses (taste/touch/etc.)?

  9. Great tips Erica. I have always had success printing out the manuscript. I’ve done a lot of hand cutting and taping (I know, so old school) before I go back to the computer version. Good luck with your revisions!

  10. I do like to print out the first draft to work things out on paper. It’s a nice change from computer work, which comes after the paper revision. I also like to do later revisions in other formats, like changing the font size and color on my computer and sending the document to my computer when I’m in the polishing stage. I want to try doing an audio revision with my next project as the final, final polishing stage.

  11. Sounds like a great plan! I use yWriter instead of Scrivener and put my task list in Google Docs. I found a neat way to use the bullets having them all as open boxes as I jot task notes to myself in a list. Then I right click on the bullet and change it to a check mark!

  12. I have a love/hate relationship with the first rewrite. I hate to start, but then once I do and I start looking at all the different parts you mentioned and it becomes like a puzzle that I have the picture of from the box and now I get to sort it all out and put it together. I find that good nerd fun.

  13. I forget the exact quote, but one of my professors used to say that revision is where the real story starts to emerge. They regarded the rough draft to a sculptor who carves out a block of stone the size of a fridge and excavates it from the quarry. Revision was when they began taking fine tools and shaping the stone into its final form.

    One technique I’ve found helpful has been to focus on different levels/types of editing. For example, I’ll look at the big picture, with each scene or chapter as a single sentence/beat, and then I’ll go through and evaluate the story from each major character’s perspective (looking at their motives, words, actions, etc.), then I’ll focus on sentence composition, grammar, and word choices. Of course I can always “notice” something from another level, but my general rule is “note it but don’t fix it”.

  14. Good luck on your next draft! These are excellent tips. I’m just finishing my second draft now and implemented some of these and can say that they helped tremendously and the story improved vastly from my first draft. I like the scene rearranging feature in Scrivener! I may have to try it out. Great post!

  15. Great tips! Revisions are always the most tedious part of writing. Where’s our creativity?
    I have one suggestion for when you’re at the final stage of revising, when you’re in proofreading mode. Change the font to something unfamiliar, make it a bigger size (>20pt) and change the background to bright red. These changes slow your brain so you’re not skipping over simple mistakes. You’ll catch so many fixable errors.
    Thanks for your insight!

  16. Victoria Marie Lees

    Great tips for revision, Erika! I love the revision quote. So true. There are also a lot of good tips in these comments. Enjoy your weekend!

  17. I love editing … as an editor. It’s much harder when it comes to my own fiction – then the procrastination monster really kicks in. Thanks for the tips, and the encouragement.

  18. Smart and very useful tips, all of them! I find revisions tedious and use a lot of these techniques.

  19. I’ve started using a Save-the-Cat-style plot worksheet, which cuts down on big revisions. I want to try Scrivener, but I don’t have time for the learning curve right now. For me it’s plot worksheet notes and a timeline by chapter in a Word document, to help keep track of scenes and dates.

    As far as letting the ms sit, the longer the better. I’m getting back to one after several years, and the objectivity that has given me is incredible. My CPs are finally giving it the thumbs-up.

  20. I often quip that I find revising easier than the first write-through, but that’s only when I’m working on the first write-through. Knowing where to begin with a revision and knowing when to stop is certainly tough. I enjoy reading about other people’s strategies – thanks for this!

  21. Thanks for the hints. I’m always saying I’ll get around to revising previous work but I haven’t done anything about it yet. I’m hoping this will help.

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