Writing Life: Behind-the-Scenes of Initial Revision (Part Two)

Hello Friends and Welcome Back.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

We’re diving back into a behind-the-scenes peek at my revision process. First things first, my initial revision process is very different from those I’ve seen of other authors. This is what works for me, however I highly encourage you to look up Susan Dennard’s revision series because she does an excellent job breaking down how she goes about revisions.

For part two we’re picking up with having completed the initial read-through. As a reminder, that read-through is completely without any note taking or marking up. The initial reading is for the purpose of seeing the story as a reader (not an editor or a writer). Once that is complete, I am able to decide if the story is one that I want to dedicate a large chunk of my writing time to for the foreseeable future.

Once I’ve decided that I am prepared to give the good part of the next year to molding and improving the story, I am ready to go with initial revisions!

My Round One Revision Necessities:

  • Printed Copy of my manuscript
  • Plenty of loose-leaf college-ruled notebook paper
  • Colorful pens (I use black, blue, pink, green, orange, and purple)

The first round of revisions is focused on the big picture items. I read through the novel scene by scene and do my best to focus on four big things and do my best to keep that focus to those four things only. On my loose-leaf paper I write “Scene 1:” at the top and make several color-coded notes about the scene in question and move forward to the next scene once I’ve finished review of that scene.

My Areas of Focus and the Color I Associate With Them:

  • Cut – words, sentences, scenes to cut (Orange)
  • Research – any item that should be verified or fleshed out (Green)
  • Add – any scenes that either need to be expanded or new scenes that need to be added between scenes (Blue)
  • Consistency – I surprise myself with how often a small detail is established in one scene and completely contradicted in another scene. (Pink)

My black pen is used for general notes about the scene. I’ve written things along the lines of “Oooh, suspense is building!” on a couple scenes. I saw another author made a point to write positive comments about her work and what she really liked. It’s so easy to pick apart my work but I’ve found that looking for positive aspects has helped me keep moving forward rather than throwing the manuscript away forever.

I use my purple pen to number the scenes in the novel as well as make notes to myself. It doesn’t get used a ton but I like using multiple colors.

After I have completed review of the novel and have both the manuscript as well as my notes in my hand, then it is time to re-outline the novel. I take the scenes already written, the scenes that I have envisioned adding, as well as the scenes that I might have planned in my original outline but never wrote and I put them all together in a brand new outline.

I actually outline in a spreadsheet so that I can manipulate it as needed. Once I have the full-story outline in front of me and have gone through to remove what might be unnecessary, I pick it apart by Plot A/B/C as well as main characters to make sure that all plot lines and characters have fully developed stories and arcs.

Once I’m happy with my new outline, I go back to the first draft and notate any scenes that I really liked and want to make sure to transfer into the next draft. Even if it was something as simple as really liking a particular setting’s description or one line a character spoke, I want to make sure that those make it into the next draft.

After that, it’s time to draft again. We’ll get to that process in the next installment!

Preview of Coming Attractions:

  • Brand New Blank Scrivener File
  • Writing Essentials for Drafting
  • Finding the Perfect Playlist
  • Deviating from the Plan (if it happens)

-Kellie Katrin

Published by Kellie Katrin

Hello, my name is Kellie and I am an author, editor, underwriter, marathon runner, and a lover of words. I seek to bring joy to the world around me and share my words with the world.

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