Writer Wednesday–How Do YOU Revise?


Last week, I outlined a revising strategy, describing how it happens in layers.

This week, I want to address HOW to actually revise. I mean, strategies and theories are great, but when you sit down to DO something, how does it get done?

Well, thankfully, there’s no one way, which is why I want y’all to share your strategy in the comments. The more ideas we discuss, the more help people get, right?

Lemme share my technique…which can vary depending on my mood, LOL!

Sometimes, I revise using my computer. I open the document, enlarge the screen so I can see the words without squinting (I’m nearsighted, what can I say?), and read each scene paying attention to flow and plot advancement. (I change typos during this stage too, because, darn it, they’re there no matter how many times I read the damn manuscript!) Like I said last week, if a scene doesn’t advance the plot, I delete it.

I try to read as quickly as I can…not like speed reading, but more like reading in a condensed amount of time so I don’t lose the story thread and confuse details. (Time between readings makes my memory fuzzy, you know?)

Sometimes, I’ll use my iPad. It changes the “look” of the document, making it look more like a book. Somehow, it makes the words, sentences, and paragraphs seem new. I can often pick out redundancies, echoes, wonky dialogue, etc. easier that way.

Sometimes (after I’ve already revised a couple of times) I print out the document. I may still encounter lots of cutting at this stage (by then I have lots of beta feedback, several weeks or even months have passed, and I have a whole new perspective on the project), and it’s quite fun to slash a line through an entire page. I also mark up the hell out of each page, crossing out crappy bits and rewriting better bits in the margins. Then I transcribe the changes on the computer and re-read it one to two more times, tweaking as I go.

After revising the printed manuscript, I can end up with something like this:

(Note: This is not my actual revision…aftermath. But it can sure feel like it!)

How about you? What does your revising strategy entail?

Check out Sarah’s response to her question about writing expectations for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog chain!

10 comments on “Writer Wednesday–How Do YOU Revise?

  1. Akoss says:

    I always print out the entire manuscript for each round of revision. For some reason I can’t revise properly while reading it on the computer screen. I keep a log of all the things I change, delete or rewrite per revision round to keep things fresh in my mind.
    I have yet to use an ipad or an e-reader to help with my revision process.

  2. I think you need to do a round with it printed out, you can miss things on a screen. I haven’t got an ipad but it sounds like a fun way to do it!

  3. kathils says:

    I do all my revising and editing on screen until the *final* (ha!) edit. I print a hard copy, grab the red pen, and have at it. I usually print out the copy my beta has gone over so all their comments are in the margins.

  4. Kendall Grey says:

    I used to do the print out thing, but lately, I just change the font and size – that also gives a different perspective and helps you see things you might miss. Your eyes get used to seeing the manuscript in a certain font, so you have to trick them and throw them off balance – force them to actually “read” the words on the page instead of skimming.

  5. roguemutt says:

    I upload the first draft to a blog, make some notes after reading it, and then print it out on paper for the major revisions.

  6. I’ve found putting it on my Kindle helps me read it differently. I can read faster and I get a better feel of the flow.

  7. Krispy says:

    I usually revise on the computer, but there’s nothing like printing something out when it comes to catching more mistakes. I think it must be the “makes it look different” thing, but I seem to be able to find typos and awkward phrasing more easily when I’m looking at print.

  8. I print out my manuscript and go through it several times, noting mistakes, changing scenes, and adding description. (I write the first draft really bare bones.) Then I enter it all in the computer, print it out, and start again. Just can’t stare at a screen to do revisions.

  9. I do it all online. I used to try paper, but I found I don’t like to transfer the changes. But, I do use track changes during my own revise so that I can decide later if I really want to keep my edits.

  10. […] January 25, 2012 by lbdiamond Over the course of the month, we’ve covered revising tips, revising how-to’s, and even shared personal experiences with revising. […]

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