Starting a revision can feel very overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts and things to think about. With any multi-step project, thinking things through and making decisions before you start can help alleviate some stress and help you start things on the right foot.
The first decision would be figuring out exactly how you’re going to do this revision. Are you going to print out the document and bind it in some way? Are you going to work directly on your computer, probably in the program you used to write the first draft? Or are you going to turn your manuscript into a PDF and upload it onto your iPad or other tablet and use an app, like GoodNotes, to annotate by hand? I have used all three methods and they work for different types of drafts, so think about how you like to work and decide now which method you’re going to use.
The next decision you’ll need to make is what type of revision you’re doing. Are you going to go from Once Upon A Time all the way to Happily Ever After, revising the book in a linear fashion? Or are you going to go through the book multiple times focusing on different topics or problems? For example, you go through the whole book working on the main character’s arc and then go through again working on subplots and finally you go through and tighten up and edit descriptions. Both of these work, it really depends on you and your book.
The final decision I would like you to make before starting your revision is what I call the setup. How do you write best? Do you need a writing ritual where you have music, candlelight, fancy beverages and snacks? Or do you write in silence? If you used a ritual during your first draft, utilize similar things and keep notes about what works and what doesn’t work.
You should also ask yourself how you want your desk to look like, or if you even want to work at home. Maybe drafting on the couch was perfect, but now you need more focused time so you need to write from the library. These things can all depend on how you like to work best, the draft you are on, and what’s going to help you revise your novel.
Final Things To Think About
Making these three decision before you even touch your manuscript can free up a lot of brain space, a lot of worry and stress so you can sit down and get to work making your book better. Once you have your answers, you can prepare your manuscript for the method, write up notes about the problems you need to solve, and gather all the supplies you might want to have on hand for your ritual. Having all of this before you even sit down with that red pen is going to give you so much confidence that you’ll be raring to go!
I would love to know which method of revision you’ll be doing, so let me know in the comments below.
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