Well I promised and no amount of hating process is going to make it suddenly easier to accomplish – so lets dive in! I’ve already stated that regardless of how much you hate the process revision/editing/rewrites are a must so I won’t brow beat you about it anymore. Instead, let’s start out by looking at the basic terms.
- Revision: focuses on overall readability and clarity
- Rewrite: writing a scene, chapter or page over again.
- Editing: focuses on grammar and punctuation line by line; also sometimes called “line editing“
- Copy Editing: focuses on the text as a whole. Includes both line editing and revision in one.
My Process usually follows this order:
Abandonment/Drawer – this is my favorite part of the process. It’s when I take my brand new finished manuscript that I’ve just finished and stick in the deepest darkest hole I can find for as long as possible. Preferably for periods of years, not weeks or months and certainly not for days. This allows me to come back to the novel later with fresh eyes and helps cut the pride out of the equation that usually makes the revision process harder.
Conscious Reading – This is my copy editing phase; I read the manuscript, fixing the odd error that I come across as I go. In this phase I do my best to get the manuscript to read as smoothly as possible without worrying too much about grammar(I still think about it, I just try to not let the grammar sidetrack me at this point.) During this phase I’m also looking for any glaring holes that need plugged, descriptions that fall short, scenes that need rewritten etc which leads right into the next step.
Rewrites – Referencing my notes from the previous step I rewrite sections of the manuscript that really needed it and integrate them seamlessly into the text.
Final edit/read-through – Now that the manuscript is as smooth and complete as I can make it it’s time for the final read-through also known as line editing. This is the phase that really makes my head ache while I pour over every line of text, attempting to fix grammar errors missed in previous edits as well as examining the whole text to make sure the final product makes as much sense as possible. By the time I’m done with all of that my head is splitting and I’m so completely fed up with both the book, myself and the characters that there’s always a slight chance I’ll toss the whole thing in the trash at this point.
That’s all before I get into the format wars of making the book presentable for ereaders as well as the final touches that hopefully translate to more sales for me and my indie artist friends. No wonder I’m exhausted when each book is finished! Regardless of the order you decide to put these elements in for your own revision process, make sure to include all of them! You owe it to yourself, your work and your readers to present your work in the best light that you’re able to; no manuscript no matter how awesome will shine without a little polish.