The Revision Process

Hello everyone!

I’ve been on a temporary hiatus due to two major developments in my life! Between revising my debut novel and the thrill of morning sickness, I’ve been a rather occupied. But, I’m here and ready to blog!

Let’s talk briefly about the revision process. Anxious doesn’t come close to describing how I felt about revising, before I even got the editorial notes from my publisher. This was new to me! I’d revised gazillions (that’s a number) of times based on my own thoughts and the opinions of critique partner’s and beta readers. But, from a REAL editor? *gulp* I really didn’t know what to expect.

So, what did I get?

I first received an editorial letter. I’d best compare this to what I would call a thorough Beta Reading document. Basically, a word document where the editor wrote up their thoughts and opinions on my characters, plot, and writing.

From there, I dove into the manuscript. I had the unique situation where my line edits and developmental edits were combined into one large editorial process. Thankfully, the document looked much like the thorough critiques I recieve from my critique group. We’re a fierce bunch of writers and critiquers. They prepared me well! The editorial document was filled with developmental comments about needed character development, areas of great pacing, poor pacing, and always the fun “:) I love this part!” comment. Because, if you are going to give someone suggestions, it’s also nice to point out the good parts too.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed with the developmental edits (I’m reassured this is a normal reaction when first receiving your editorial letter), I started my revision process with biting off what I could chew.

Line edits.

I dug in deep, repairing not only the areas they suggested but making sure that my novel represents my current writing skills. I wrote the novel three and a half years ago, revising it up ’til Winter of 2012. But guess what happened in 2013? I took a break from revising my own novel to dig in deep and critique others’. I learned so much from this process, that I wrote another novel. Pumping that out in only one month. Winter 2013 and Spring 2013, was my self designed writer’s bootcamp. I can say I’ve learned more about writing from critiquing than any book I’ve purchased or creative writing class I took in college.

So,  I decided to go up and beyond the line edit call from my editor, and suggest alternative line edits as well. I use track changes while editing. This way the editor always knows what line edits I suggested and implemented as well as seeing if I met their own suggestions.

I noted ideas of how to meet my editor’s developmental revisions while I completed my line edit pass. Doing this gave my brain the ability to jump right back into developmental edits, knowing exactly how I was going to tackle my issues and where.

I’m now at the point where I’ve completed my first developmental pass of edits and second. I’m giving myself some “time off” so I can return with fresh eyes.

I’m a big believer that fresh eyes is key in creating a great manuscript.

So that’s where I am in the revision process. How do you approach revisions? Whether for your editor, yourself, or a critique partner?

I’d love to hear about it!

OH. P.S. … MY BIG COVER REVEAL IS TOMORROW!!!!

11 Comments

  1. Spike Cordiner

    Nice post Lizzy! It’s always good to hear how others go about the editing process 🙂

    I recently got a series of revision notes on my first MS. Not line edits, more of a general guide on things that caught the reader’s attention and that they suggested I work on. The first thing I did, after reading them was… nothing. The thing is, I know what I’m like. My first, immediate, knee-jerk reaction is to get all defensive (“What? But that’s awesome?! How dare you…!”). So after reading the suggestions I let them sit in the back of my head for about a week and by the time I looked at them again, I was ready to actually pay attention to what I was being told.

    [By the way, many of my problems were things I kinda, sorta, really already knew about. However, having someone point them out to me (someone who isn’t a person I regularly go drinking with and has no reason to keep me happy beyond being a genuinely nice person) makes them a lot more obvious. Amy mentioned this in her (excellent) post on critique partners. As result I’m now entirely comfortable standing up in front of a support group and saying:

    “Hi. My name’s Spike Cordiner and I suffer from wandering POV.”]

    Anyhoo, the way I’ve taken to implementing the suggested revisions is to start two new documents. The first is entitled ‘workshop’. I take a scene from my MS and copy it into the workshop. Next to me is a printed out copy of my suggested revisions. I revise the scene with the suggestions as a guide. Then I line edit. Then I read it out loud. This gets you weird looks in the pub but it really does help pick up the clunky turns of phrase. Then I check it again. Then I hit ‘Ctrl+F’, look for the word ‘to’ and eliminate the chain verbs I thought I’d already removed.

    [“Hi. My name’s Spike Cordiner and I suffer from excessive chain verbs.”]

    When that’s done, I copy the whole thing into the second document, entitled ‘edited.’ Then I do the next scene.

    It’s maybe a bit of a slow, long-winded process but I seems to work for me. At least I hope it does, we’ll see how it goes when I’m done!

    This reply went on a bit longer than I’d intended when I started. But trust me, the revised version will be *awesome*…

    P.S. Hopping from foot to foot waiting for the cover reveal!

    Reply
    • Lizzy Charles

      Can I just say, I loved this comment! It made me so happy. I totally understand exactly what you are saying! The defensive reaction. That’s why I tackled my line edits first (I was on a quick deadline, so I didn’t have more than a few days to let everything simmer before I started revisions). This gave me more time to get over “myself” and get a grasp on an outsiders perspective of my novel. I’m so glad I did. My novel is so much better for it!

      Reply

  2. Your post is awesome, Lizzy! And your routine too, Spike! 🙂

    Well, haven’t had any R&R yet (matter of fact, I’m still in the first draft stages of my manuscript) but I’m bookmarking this post for future reference purposes 😀

    AND I’m fired up for the cover reveal!!

    Reply
    • Lizzy Charles

      Thanks! I’m psyched too! I’d love to beta read for you someday Ifeoma~! 🙂

      Reply

  3. Sounds like a good process. I’m so curious about the editing revisions. Thanks for sharing your experience. Is the “track changes” in word? I haven’t figured out all of its features. Sounds like a couple very important things are gestating. Don’t know how you could even type with morning sickness–I was a mess. Congratulations. 🙂

    Reply
    • Lizzy Charles

      Hi Karen! Track Changes is in MicroSoft Word. You’ll find it under your Review Tab. You’ll find it useful as it allows you to make changes with still keeping track of anything you deleted, etc. And, yeah, morning sickness… oofta. I can’t wait for it to be done! (Praying it does end up done!)

      Reply

  4. Neat perspectives! I know what you mean about how critiquing for others brings you to a new level. When other people ask me questions about how to polish their writing, I suggest they do book reviews (well, if they don’t have critique partners as well!); it gives you the ability to analyze why you like what you like and what’s wrong with what you don’t, and to figure out how to express that in words. That way you can learn how to write more like the authors you like (though of course not swiping their style or ideas–just their expertise!) as well as learn how to give (and therefore get!) better feedback from other authors. And it’s nice to receive comprehensive developmental editing suggests as well as comparatively superficial word doctoring, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • Lizzy Charles

      Great idea about the book reviews! I started doing that too, so that probably helped as well. I think it’s also important to take time off to just read books for fun! Sometimes, us authors just need to relax.

      Reply

  5. At first, I loved the editing process, you see your ms getting tighter and better. However, revision after revision starts to mess with your head. And then, your editor decides to really change things up!! Like Spike said, I truly believe that reading your book out loud is a great way to actually hear how it’s progressing. I found this to be my best course of action. And taking time off is wonderful for the brain. Good Luck with your book, Lizzy!!

    Reply
    • Lizzy Charles

      Thank you Cathrina! I agree, revision after revision totally messes with my bead too! That’s why I need to take a GOOD break sometime! When I’m revising my own changes to a manuscript and not on a deadline, sometimes I’ll take off a whole month if that’s what I need to see my MS clearly. Also, reading your book outloud! I really need to do that more! Thanks for the advice. 🙂

      Reply

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