3 Steps to Conquering the Revision Beast

It’s taken me several years to develop a process of revision that works for me. Imposter syndrome would have me revising until the end of time, but that’s not a positive experience nor a fruitful one. So, I believe, it’s important to have a plan and stick to the plan.

Now, I’m not talking about the plan for the book in this post, because that’s a post all in itself, and I’m not talking about drafting. I have an earlier post on how I use dictation to speed up this process, make sure you go back and read that one.

1st Step: Have a completed rough draft. You should not start revising until your rough draft is finished. If you are like I used to be, then you probably wrote a chapter, revised it, moved on to the next, and a year later you had a rough draft that needed revision.

No bueno!

Now, I write the rough in all its messy horribleness, get it all out and down, and then I start building it out and cleaning it up. This is a key to an excellent setup for revision.

2nd Step: Have a plan of revision. Revision is the pathway from the hot mess rough draft to the working and functioning draft readers will love (after a proofreader hits it.) The following plan is completed by chapter.

For me this starts with two ingredients. The Google Doc where I copied my dictated text from my speech-to-text app on my phone, and the recording of my dictation, I use Easy Voice Recorder. I play the recording while editing the speech-to-text. My primary goal is to clean things up. My secondary goal is to fill in any character actions and speech that may be missing.

Next, I revise the edited draft using the Read Aloud feature in Word. I play the revised file and edit while listening. The use of audio for both of these steps helps me work in a more whole brain environment, kicking my creativity up tenfold. Ideas for description, character actions, setting and so much more are triggered because I’m listening. 

Third, I send it to my long-time friend and critique partner Melisa Hightower, and she does a pass with feedback and comments. I take her comments and go through fixing any errors she finds and expanding where I’ve been confusing. This helps me find my weak spots, and fill in any plot holes I may have missed. Though, a good rough draft plan helps eliminate these before they begin.

Fourth, I send the chapter to my second critique partner who I just met this May and am loving working with, Nikki Daninger. I complete the same steps as I did with Melisa’s critique.

3rd Step: Celebrate! Once a chapter has gone through all four steps, the revision process is complete for that chapter, and it is moved to the list ready for proofreading.

YAY! Celebrate all the achievements! Every chapter that’s finished!

Once the revision is complete, I send it to the proofreader, and finally I format it for publication and send it out to my Beta and ARC readers. It’s a lot of steps, but I’m move through them quickly.

For me, and it is different for everyone, but I take about a month to revise a 100k words. So I should be done by the end of July, if not a bit before that since I’m not teaching over the summer.

I love questions and discussions or even just a note to say hi! So say something in the comments and I’ll get back to you soon.


J. L. Burrows

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