by Pat Stoltey
I'm a little crazy, I guess, because I enjoy the revision phase of novel writing even more than I like the creative phase. Here's how I go about it.
Step One: Sort all the critique pages from my critique group. I have feedback for all but the last three chapters. I put them in page order within chapters, discarding the pages that have no comments on them. Step One is done. The pages now sit to the left of my desktop computer keyboard.
Step Two: Work my way through the novel, page by page, making changes and corrections based on the critique comments that I think will improve the novel while retaining my voice and style.
Step Three: Read the novel from beginning to end from the computer monitor. During this process, I make notes when I see problems with the story arc, back story, characters, or descriptions.
Step Four: Using the notes from Step Three: Fix the problems.
Step Five: Print out the novel and read it again. Make notes and corrections on the pages. Add needed scenes (handwritten) and mark where the insertions go.
Step Six: Enter all of the changes into the manuscript file on the computer.
Step Seven: Read the manuscript aloud from the monitor, making additional changes and corrections as I go.
Step Eight: Do all of the self-editing steps I have as part of my personal routine (and all the new ones I'm learning from Kirt Hickman's Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness). There are ten of my own, including searches for the words I tend to repeat (really, pretty, and back among others), excessive use of adverbs (-ly), and passive verbs (was, were).
Step Nine: Print the novel again and read it aloud from the hard copy. I'm always amazed at how many small errors and typos I find during this process. What I see on my monitor looks very different on paper.
Step Ten: Stop fiddling with the manuscript and get on with queries and submissions (and agent or editor pitches at conferences).
Of course, there's more than one way to skin a cat...or revise a manuscript. If you missed Kirt Hickman's day-long workshop on the process (which I'm told was an outstanding program), check out his book. I would also like to recommend Chris Roerden's Don't Sabotage Your Submission: Save Your Manuscript from Turning Up D.O.A.