I recently finished a marathon revision of my novel. In less than one month, I completely revised it chapter by chapter, pitched it online and submitted it. Whew!
From the depths of the trenches of revision I am offering a few helpful tips from what I’ve learned.
Critique Partner - like MasterCard says... PRICELESS!
I never would have completed the revisions or probably have even started the process without my fantastic critique partner spurring me on, offering advise and being available to read each chapter as I submitted them to her.
Big thank you to Sandy.
Work Backwards - gets you unstuck. I worked chapter by chapter in order until I got marred down in the middle. Then I went to the last chapter and revised it. If you’ve never tried this I highly recommend it. Usually by the time I get to the last two chapters in revision I just want to power through and be done. So this time I spent some time on the last chapter and then the second to last. Got me unstuck and I learned of some key elements that I needed to tie into earlier chapters. I haven’t tried jumping around, but others have and say that works too.
Search and Destroy - use it earlier rather than later. It makes you a better writer. During a time of less energy, I needed a change of pace so I did a search and find on one chapter. You know the drill looking for those passive verbs, the “ly” or your overused or filler words and then removing them, replacing them, or making sure you haven’t overused them.
Let me tell you it woke me up to some of my overused words and I wrote with far fewer of them in the remaining chapters.
Here’s my list of those overused or naughty words to search out and destroy.
was, were, is, are, be, being, been, am, it,
that, there, this, then
smile, glance, stepped, laugh,sigh
should, could, would, had, have,
thought, saw, heard, smelled, felt
noticed, might, maybe, before, with, know, some
look, gaze, watched, eyes, hand
start, begin, began, almost, decided to, planned to
like, almost, even, only, some, somehow, something, somewhat,
really, well, just, simply, so, a lot, anyway, rather
suddenly, immediately, extremely, very, every, quite
manage, eventually, exactly, finally, nearly, practically, seems, basically,
truly, utterly, sort of,
• ( submit oneself) consent to undergo a certain treatment : he submitted himself to a body search.
• subject to a particular process, treatment, or condition : samples submitted to low pressure.
• agree to refer a matter to a third party for decision or adjudication : the U.S. refused to submit to arbitration.
present (a proposal, application, or other document) to a person or body for consideration or judgment : the panel's report was submitted to a parliamentary committee.
No wonder pushing the send button to submit the manuscript to editors and agents was harder for me than birthing my children. With labor I had no choice. Pushing the send button--fraught with angst.
But in the end I succumbed and submitted.
And I’m doing it all again next month.
Feel free to comment on your wisdom learned from revisions or anything else as well.