Paula describes her revision process
Having finally ‘finished’ my WIP about forty-five minutes
before my self-imposed deadline of the end of October, I’ve now started on the
revision and editing process. Some people advise putting the manuscript to one
side for a week or more, so you can come back to it with fresh eyes. However,
with this story, I’ve held back from making various changes in the early
chapters (necessitated by later events in the story) and so I was anxious to
start putting the whole story straight.
Here’s my revision process:
I start with a detailed chapter revision, firstly to add essential
information or delete irrelevant details, and then to tidy up my writing and get
rid of what I know are my ‘repeat’ words. I also try to tighten my writing,
which often involves rephrasing sentences and sometimes whole paragraphs. This
is where an online thesaurus can come in useful. There are times when I can
‘feel’ for a word I can’t quite find in my mind. I enter the word nearest to my
‘feeling’ and may spend a long time searching for synonyms, and even synonyms
of synonyms, until I finally the ‘right’ word.
After this, I put the chapter through ‘Autocrit Wizard’. You
already know how much I rely on this online programme, which can highlight many
style issues from pacing to repetition, and from adverbs to redundant words. Autocrit
always surprises me. I may think I have ‘edited’ a chapter, but it always shows
me so many things I have missed, and so I rewrite, revise, and re-edit again. Rewriting
a chapter like this can take at least two days, and often more.
At this point, I send my chapter to my critique partners,
and wait with bated breath for their replies. It’s always useful to have their
comments. Sometimes it may be a word or phrase suggestion, or a ‘British-ism’
that Americans may not understand; other times it can be a longer query, maybe
something that isn’t clear, or something I’ve over-explained, or some important
detail I’ve missed. Some things are easily put right, while other comments make
me think hard about what may need changing.
Finally, when I’ve done this with every chapter (which can
take me at least a couple of months), I change the whole manuscript into a
different font, enlarge it, and read it out loud. This results in me saying, “Eek,
that sounds wrong” (or awkward, or inadequate, or repetitive, or whatever!), so
I revise again. The enlarged font also helps me to spot any word and punctuation
omissions. I know some people print out their manuscript, but I’m saving the
I’m always tempted to continue tweaking, smoothing, and
polishing, but, as Jen said yesterday, there comes a point when we have to
force ourselves to stop!