I am sometimes asked what the revision process is like. “Painful, but useful.” It is hard to get away from the feeling that “Hey! Don’t touch that! I wrote it the way I wanted to the first time!” However, chances are, even your most brilliant prose is going to have some errors, or an ever better way you could say something at second glance.
There are different types of revisers, but I prefer the method of getting the whole first draft back on paper and then going back over the whole thing a bit at a time. I look for typos, awkward sentences (prune those adjectives and adverbs! They are a bit like salt: only good in measured amounts) and holes in the logic or plot. I have found that is sometimes good to keep a “character bible” to keep track of what traits you have assigned each person. If you give your protagonist blue eyes on page 2 and on page 12 he has brown eyes, your readers might raise an eyebrow.
By far, the most helpful thing I found, is to enlist the help of others. Let them read it over, and tell you where the weak spots are. Have the write down questions or things that did not make sense. The problem with reading your own manuscript, is that you know how everything is supposed to be, and it all makes sense in your head, so you are liable to glance over problems.
With “The Canticle Kingdom”, I was told that they needed to trim down the word count a bit to make it the right size for what the price they wanted to sell it at. I struggled with what to cut, and in the end took the leap of faith just to let Meg Welton, the editor, use her discretion. To my great relief, she did a wonderful job of trimming a few parts while leaving the core story intact. It can be done. It is hard to let your work fall under someone else’s sheers, but in the end it is worth it.
I would love to hear from the rest of you. How do you revise? What tips can you give that have worked for you? Leave a comment this week for a chance to win a free signed copy.