I’m a little crazy, I guess, because I enjoy the revision phase of novel writing even more than I like the creative phase. Here’s how I go about it.
Step One: Sort all the critique pages from my critique group. I have feedback for the first thirteen chapters so far. I put them in page order within chapters, discarding the pages that have no comments on them.
Step One is done. The pages now sit to the left of my desktop computer keyboard.
Step Two: Work my way through the first thirteen chapters, making changes and corrections based on the critique comments that I think will improve the novel while retaining my voice and style. I will begin on Wednesday.
Step Three: Read through the rest of the novel, carrying forward any changes that impact the story. During this process, I make notes when I see problems with the story arc, backstory, characters, or descriptions.
Step Four: Using the notes from Step Three: Fix the problems.
Step Five: Print out the novel and read it again. Make notes and corrections on the pages. Add needed scenes (handwritten) and mark where the insertions go.
Step Six: Enter all of the changes into the manuscript file on the computer.
Step Seven: Read the manuscript aloud from the monitor, making additional changes and corrections as I go.
Step Eight: Do all of the Self-Editing steps I have as part of my routine. There are ten of them, including word searches for the words I tend to repeat (really, pretty, and back among others), excessive use of adverbs (-ly), and passive verbs (was, were). I posted my self-editing series at The Blood-Red Pencil blog and will summarize the process here when I get to this step.
Step Nine: Print the novel again and read it aloud from the hard copy. I’m always amazed at how many small errors and typos I find during this process.
Step Ten: Stop fiddling with the manuscript and get on with queries and submissions (and agent or editor pitches at conferences). My goal is to complete Step Ten by March 25th. I need a completed manuscript in order to keep my agent pitch appointment at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference at the end of March.
I’ll have my nose to the grindstone over the next thirty days, so don’t be alarmed if I disappear from time to time. I’ll still try to post every day, even if it’s only to whine about the mistakes I find in this ugly first draft.