Thursday, August 19, 2010

Revision Hell

Now that I've finally finished my current edit obligations (though I'm sure there will be more) I'm back to working on my current work in progress. Since I've been away from the story for about three weeks, this is a prime time to read it with a fresh eye.

Every writer has their own working styles and steps. When I get close to the end of a story I like to step away from it for a while and look at it after several weeks away. I print it out (yep, on real paper), put it in a three ring binder and walk away from the computer.

Then with my handy-dandy red pen and a pile of sticky notes, I read, take notes, mark changes and typos and errors. And when I finish I have a clearer idea of where I am as opposed to where I would like to be with the story.

As I'm reading, I put together a rough time-line of when what happened where. Sometimes I discover I have a character in two places at the same time. Not good. Once I found I had three different costumes on the same character at one party.

I also do a running list of all the "facts" I've mentioned regarding the main characters. If I mention that Joanie Heroine doesn't drink coffee, then it would be good to not find her in the cafe having a cup of joe with her girlfriend. If she started the story with red hair, it would not be good for Bob Hero to be playing with her ebony tresses at the end of the book.

The last thing I do is fill in a sheet with a list of characters from the book, no matter how minor. Because??? I once used "Jonah" for a minor character name three times within three chapters. I knew I liked that name, but really. Three Jonah's in one town?

Finally, I return to the computer and implement all the changes/revisions I jotted down. And then I finish the book. I always thought my need to print out the manuscript was just my own quirk. But recently I read an article that explained that human brains process the written electronic word differently than the written printed word. So I don't feel so bad anymore when I print and revise.

What about you? Do you revise? If so, what is your process?



  1. I do the same thing Anny. I print every one of my books out. I have folders and I keep track of essentials on the front of the folder - hair color, eye color, secondary characters, etc.
    After I'm done editing I put all the new info into the doc and send it off to my editor. :) You're not alone.

  2. I do a lot of that as I go along. I keep a notebook for each book, and in it I have details about the h/h, minor characters, setting, that I jot as I write the book. I also revise as I go, so by the time I'm done, it's in pretty good shape.

    I do let it sit for a few weeks then go back and re-read before handing off to my beta reader.

    I'll usually print the galley proof from my editor, but I don't print prior to that. I do a lot of search & replace, global checks, etc., but something always slips through. I try to catch that before it goes to print.

  3. I used to print out everything until my printer died; it helps me catch my typos. And when I did my edits, I printed out the editor's copy, so I could compare better. Then I figured out how to deal with track changes! But I still like to have a 'hard copy' of everything. Now I just have to send my file to Office Max until we get a blasted printer. Thankfully, hubby is getting tired of paying for my 10 pages here, 10 pages there, and is looking into getting me a lazer printer.

  4. I quite often print out my manuscripts. I definitely find more things to edit this way. I need to start doing the timeline thing. I'm terrible with my characters' clothes. I leave them on when they should be off or have them doing the deed with their clothes off and their boots still on. Honestly, I'm a source of amusement to my editor!