Friday, July 8, 2011

5 Tips for Revising a Novel

Like a rollercoaster ride, the revision process is full of ups and downs. One moment, it feels like everything is going well. The changes you're making are definitely making the story stronger. Then a few minutes later, doubts creep in. Is what I want to do even working? Have I really addressed the doubts of my critique buddies? Is this new plot direction going to work? What if it ruins what I already have?

Some signs you might want to rethink your revisions:

1. It feels like your character is running on a hamster wheel, going around and around and not getting anywhere. Remember, the tension and conflict should be increasing.

2. The scene you just reworked bears a striking ressemblance to another scene earlier in your novel.

3. You fall asleep while you're writing. Maybe there's a little too much of that description or interior dialogue?

4. A never-before-seen character or object appears in your novel just before the climax to help get your protagonist out of a tricky situation. If your setting isn't Hogwarts, you might be in trouble.

5. After reading your latest chapter, the reader has a clear image of how your main character slurps up ice cream, eating out all the chocolate bits first and licking whipping cream off the spoon, but has no idea how your character got away from the evil monster and ended up in the ice cream shop. Oops! Go get a real sundae and then get back to the keyboard to show those key plot events!

Do you have any great revision tips to help get through the process?


  1. I wrote an adult length novel (90K) and realized it was much too long for a MiG novel, so I began my revision.
    I was afraid that when I cut some minor scenes that I might be cutting some key facts needed at the end. It's hard for me, the author, to forget the deleted parts. I had a fresh pair of eyes read it. (that hadn't read any former versions)They were able to point out any "empty" spots.

    Thanks for your pointers!

  2. OMG. Quit reading my WIP over my shoulder, Andrea!!

    I'm at the point where I'm doing a Search For just so I can see if I've written about something before. I simply can't remember at this point. It's bad. I'm limping over the finishing line...

    Revision tips? Hmm. I always like to print out my work and read it. I find looking at in any new way (different format, different color font, whatever) always helps me catch the stupid mistakes and major holes.

  3. These are fantastic tips! I have to laugh over the sleeping while writing one. That happens to me a lot but maybe it's because I'm just tired.

  4. I love tip #5. Make sure your key stuff doesn't happen off-screen, which can be difficult I admit if your viewpoint character is eating ice cream while someone else is getting away from the monster. But find a way to make it happen!

    Yvonne, definitely fresh eyes. There's nothing like cutting to the bone and then realizing you have a minor character with one scene because you cut everything else but forgot that part.

  5. Great tips! I've had it happen before where I feel like I'm repeating a scene or two. So easy to do!

  6. Great tips, Andrea!

    I always convert to an epub and read it to my daughter at nighttime. If I stumble, I change.

    And thanks for visiting my blog!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.