The Revision Process

Finding time to finish “Because of India” was hard enough once I found myself back at school after Christmas break. As my classes started to become more demanding, I was lucky if I could finish a few chapters in one week (which was very far from my goal of one or two chapters per day).

Nevertheless, today I’m sitting on my bed with a printed copy of the first draft of “Because of India”. For a few days after I typed the final words of my manuscript, I let myself feel accomplished and proud for having written 53,500 words when I could’ve chosen to write zero. I could’ve convinced myself that I didn’t have a single second to spare to write this novel. So, why did I do it anyway?

The answer is simple. I needed this novel and these words on the pages that I hold in my hands. After almost a three year hiatus from writing, I needed to start again. Last semester was rough. It’s possible that I cried more in those 15 weeks than I did in my first year of life. I was absolutely miserable with where I was in my life and I couldn’t quite understand why.

Over Christmas break, I was cleaning my room when I came across my old manuscripts of “Scavenger” and a few other novels. It was on that day, on the floor of my bedroom, that I grieved the part of me I had lost when I decided to put away my pen. I knew that she wasn’t gone, though. I just needed to wake her up.

So, I sat down with my laptop and opened up a new document. There was no outline, no notebook, and no extensive preparation for this (see my last blog post for more about planning versus pantsing). At first, there was just the image of India, who was waiting for me to bring her to life.

With all of that said, as I sit here with my first draft of this new novel, I know that it is time to start the revision process. I sigh as I type those words. The revision process was never my favorite, but I understand that it is necessary. After I removed my rose-colored glasses, I was able to see the typos, the discrepancies, and so many other mistakes that ultimately affect the bigger picture.

I am, in a sense, new to the revision process. With my earlier novels, I would read through the pages, correct typos, and call it good. With “Scavenger”, I paid a little more attention to character development and whether or not there was a purpose to each chapter, but other than that, it was still mainly typos.

I wouldn’t exactly call myself an expert on revising and editing, but I’m certainly going to try my best with expanding my knowledge. So, first and foremost, I entrusted my roommate with a copy of my first draft. She’s already found so much more than I would have by attempting to do this on my own.

While I’m waiting for her feedback, I sat down with my own copy of the manuscript and summarized each chapter using bullet points. Then, I printed a copy of the summary sheet before choosing a few different colored pens. Next to each chapter summary, I detailed the purpose of the chapter, the conflict and resolution, and any other notes. From this step alone, I was immediately able to see a few things that need work.

Once I receive my roommate’s feedback, I plan to use index cards to make my chapter summaries more visual. From there, I’ll be able to start revising piece by piece.

A word of advice: always edit one thing at a time. This was one of my downfalls with my other novels as I attempted to tackle setting, character, and pacing all at once. Focusing on one thing at a time will only strengthen your skills in this process and won’t cause so much stress as you’re sitting in front of your manuscript.

Trust each part of the process and be confident in your abilities as a writer, and let me know of any advice that you may have on your revision process down in the comments below! 🙂

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