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Revision: Taking Your Book From “Okay” to “Great”

Revisions: Take Your Book From “Okay” to “Great”

1. After finishing your first draft, put it aside for a few weeks. Take a break. Go dancing. Before you revise, you need to create some emotional distance from your manuscript

2. Return to your first draft and begin to re-work it chapter by chapter. This is your first revision. You are looking at scene development, theme, character development, all the aspects of a novel or a non-fiction book. Have a system in place on the computer to hold and identify your changes. Purchase or design a system that works for you.

3. When you are about half way through your first re-write it is time to join a critique group that has a three or four people who are writing in the same genre and are as experienced (or more) than you. This should be the first time others have seen your writing. With each chapter, starting with the first, you receive feedback.

4. Sifting though the feedback is a difficult, tedious, and emotional process. With an open mind, you weigh what is of value and how you might use it. You might be told to change the POV, or voice, dialog, humor, or characters. Your ego and resistance will come into play and you’ll be pulled in different directions. Play with some of the suggestions to see what feels right. You must be the judge. It is your book. This is the time to make deep, contextual changes. One major change leads to changes on every page.

5. Critiquing leads to another revision or re-write. You are making your book very good, not just average.

6. At some point after perhaps a third re-write, you look at the manuscript as a whole to see how it flows, what works and what doesn’t. Writing the first draft was easy. Revision may take a longer time than writing your first draft. This is hard, tedious work.

7. After you have re-written the manuscript to your liking, it is time to edit. Many first-time writers jump from the first draft to editing. Doing so is the major mistake of novice writers. Editing is the task of removing redundancies, cleaning up word usage, finding the perfect word for a sentence. Polishing the document to make it readable.

8. Hire a professional editor to correct what all you missed!

9. Proofreading is the final step in revision or editing. Hire a professional proofreader/editor to find the typos, extra spaces and all the little things that your eyes did not catch.

10. Breathe!


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