The Beginning of the Story
The Other Side of the Coin
The 4 Steps of Revision
- Step Away: Take a break after you’ve finished writing and before you start revising. This allows you time away from the characters and plot, allowing you to revisit it with fresh eyes and from a fresh perspective. You get very close to it all while you’re writing. Stepping away is like a brain cleanse. It gives you the chance to look at your story with more objectivity.
- Quick Read: If you take a lot of time to read through the work, you’re much more likely to miss the gaps, or miss confusing parts, inconsistencies, or other big-picture things that might need improvement. Instead of doing a leisurely read, and/or instead of diving right into line edits, read your book through pretty quickly (a weekend is good!). Here are some things to notice:
- Plot inconsistencies
- Plot structure: Look closely at the story’s overall structure and ensure that it flows logically
- Engagement: will it keep the reader engaged? If you get bored, so will they!
- Check for plot holes, unnecessary scenes, or sections that feel rushed or dragged out.
- Make sure the story’s conflict, climax, and resolution are solidly done.
- Make sure the protagonist has undergone a significant change (Hero’s Journey)
- Look for pacing problems
- Review the story for consistency in details, settings, and timelines.
- Look for inconsistencies with characters (behavior, traits, appearance, etc)
- Ensure that events and plot points remain consistent throughout the narrative
3. Dig Deeper: After the Quick Read and your big picture assessment, dig deeper. Tackle the things you noted during your Quick Read, then dig deeper by examining the following:
- Character development gaps
- Assess your characters’ motivations, personalities, and relationships.
- Ensure that each character is distinct, believable, and serves a purpose in the story.
- Look for opportunities to deepen each characters’ development, story arcs (remember everyone is the hero of their own journey), and conflicts.
- Look closely at dialogue. It should be natural and serve a purpose—It must reveal character traits, conflict, internal goals/struggles, advance the plot, or build tension
- Ensure that the dialogue is authentic and helps to engage the reader.
I have a free Quick Guide to Dialogue available on The WriterSpark website. The link is in the show notes. Believe me when I say that poorly written dialogue can doom a project. The second I come across dialogue that doesn’t sound or feel authentic, that’s it…I put the book down. I can’t emphasize enough how important mastering dialogue is.
- Pay attention to the language, style, and sentence structure.
- Eliminate repetitive phrases
- Tighten sentences and vary your vocabulary.
- Look for opportunities to enhance descriptions, metaphors, and imagery to create a more vivid reading experience.
Revising is a multi-step process. It will probably take several rounds before your work is polished and ready for the next step, whatever that is. If you accept the process and embrace it, it can be so rewarding. It may never be your favorite part of the writing process, but it is so worth the effort.
And that’s it. I didn’t have this mapped out early on. This is how I tackle writing a book—after 32, I know that it works. Give it a try y’all. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
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