Thursday, September 9, 2010


“Lucky is the writer who loves to revise; blessed is the writer who knows how.”
Stephanie Greene

My editor at The Wild Rose Press uses the above quote on the bottom of all her e-mails.

I have to say, I don't mind revisions. It gives me the chance to delve deeper into my story and into my characters. And as I progress with my writing and learn something new with each manuscript I complete, the revisions have become less and less. The first manuscript I submitted went through some major revisions before being contracted. Nothing that changed the overall storyline, but things that strengthened and added depth to it. The second had its fair share of revisions, mostly because I had to add many, many words to it to bring it up to the required word count for a print publication. (Guidelines at my publisher had changed since the first one.) My third manuscript needed hardly any revisions. Just a tweak here and there. I was thrilled to receive this e-mail from my editor: Not a lot of changes. It looked good this time all the way through. Mainly just a few word choice things and a few thoughts about minor changes.

The minor changes really were minor: I think there were about five of them total. I was really proud of myself. I'd learned a lot from the previous suggestions my editor had made on my manuscripts and, more important, had learned to apply them to new works. Now, when I write, I can hear my editor's "voice" in my head and it prompts me to dig deeper the first time around. In this way, I decreased the turnaround time on my upcoming release by a lot. The fewer revisions needed, the quicker it gets approved and slotted for release.

Edits are similiar. The more experience I get, the easier it is to spot issues and mistakes. I tend to make edits in a series of rounds: first round will check for overuse of certain words, second round will check for cliches, third round will really look at word choice, etc. Narrowing down and looking for one particular thing at a time seems to make the process more streamlined.

Overall I tend to edit and revise as I go. Usually I need to reread a couple pages of where I left off before beginning writing on any given day. It puts me in the mood. Gets me back into the story. This, however, inevitably leads to some editing and revising. When I've completed a manuscript, I let it sit for a couple of days, and then do a read-through and make any revisions that seem necessary. After that I do several more read-throughs to focus on specific editing concerns. I also make use of my local RWA chapter. We do critiquing sessions at each meeting, and I always bring first chapters in to be critiqued. Starting off on the right foot is so important.

Once submitted, my editor will sometimes offer suggestions for further revisions, and then of course, I go a few more rounds of spelling check-type edits once we hit the pre-galley stage. Eventually, I just need to let go and give the final approval on my galley. (Of course once the book is in print, I usually find SOMEthing I want to change...but isn't that the way it always goes?)

Until next time,

Happy Reading! (or revising!)



  1. Some very interesting comments, Debra. I think it proves what I said previously, that if a story is good enough enough to attract an editor, then that editor will take the time to help you revise and edit it. That doesn't mean you don't work at it yourself beforehand, of course, but in the end it's the story which has to appeal to an editor.

  2. A great story, delivered. That's what it's all about, isn't it.
    Thanks for sharing your process, Debra!

  3. Interesting reading about your work process, Debra.

  4. I's all about the story and how you tell it!

  5. I didn't have to do any major revising of my early novels, apart from the first one, where it was the story-line that Alan Boon wanted changing slightly. My other novels were accepted without any editing at all. Does that mean I'm not just lucky that I like revising, but also blessed that I know how to do it?? LOLOL