Sooz’s Guide to Revisions, Lesson 5: Writing in your changes.
You might be a little worn out from Lesson 4. No worries–take a break. Give yourself some time. It’s always good to get distance between you and your novel.
Now, I realize that not everyone will print out their novel, and I know not everyone will revise by hand. That’s fine. Do what you do, but know that I’m writing this lesson as if you had printed it.
Supplies Needed Today:
- your printed manuscript
- your colorful Perfect Book outline
- your fan letter to yourself
- your Perfect Book worksheets (just have them handy)
- paper clips
If this is your first draft…
1. If this is your first draft, we’ll be approaching revisions CHRONOLOGICALLY–i.e. in order: scene 1, scene 2, etc.
2. Get your first scene card and find the pages in the MS that correspond to that scene.
3. Read the post-its on the scene card carefully. Check them often. You now have to change the scene so it meets all the little requirements on that post-it.
4. With a pen, mark out, reorganize, rewrite, and add in whatever words you need to meet those post-it’s Perfect Book goals. (see picture)
5. This is ALL RIGHT-BRAIN! So, tap into that creativity and take as long as you need to reach your target.
6. When you finish the first scene, set the scrawled-upon pages aside (I use 2 folders: one for unrevised MS, and one for revised MS), and move to the next scene.
7. Don’t be daunted. This WILL take time. But I have no doubt you’re up to the task. Remember: this is manageable! You know what you have to do, it’s all broken apart for you, and now you just have to “connect the dots”.
If this is NOT your first draft…
8. If this is your second, third, or four hundredth draft, you might benefit from this method instead. This method is for people who are
- Working on a TIGHT deadline (i.e. agent/editorial revisions)
- Aren’t doing a major overhaul of their novel
9. Take your novel and your first scene card with a BLUE POST-IT (or your Plot post-its). Pull the pages that correspond do that scene and paperclip it all to the scene card. (see picture)
10. Move to the next scene with PLOT issues, pull the corresponding pages, and paperclip it. Wash, rinse, repeat until you’ve removed every scene that needs plot changes, paper-clipped them, and set them into a stack.
11. Read the post-its on the scene card carefully. Check them often. You must change the scene so it meets all the little requirements on that post-it. Though you’ve only pulled PLOT CARDS, you’ll be fixing everything on there (character, setting, other). That way you don’t have to come back to a scene and revise it again (trust me! That gets messy!).
12. With a pen, mark out, reorganize, rewrite, and add in whatever words you need to meet those post-it’s Perfect Book goals. (see picture above, step #4)
13. This is ALL RIGHT-BRAIN! So, tap into that creativity and take as long as you need to reach your target.
14. When you finish the first scene, set the scrawled-upon pages aside (I use 2 folders: one for unrevised MS, and one for revised MS), and move to the next.
15. Once you’ve finished dealing with PLOT, you’ll repeat this process with CHARACTER. You will remove all remaining scene cards with a PINK POST-IT (or whatever color you’ve applied to character). Then you will remove the corresponding MS pages, you will paperclip them together, and you will get started.
16. Once you’ve finished dealing with CHARACTER, you’ll repeat this process with SETTING. You will remove all remaining scene cards with a GREEN POST-IT (or whatever color you’ve applied to setting), remove the corresponding MS pages, paperclip them together, and get started.
17. Finally, once you’ve finished dealing with SETTING, you’ll repeat this process with OTHER. You will remove all remaining scene cards with an ORANGE POST-IT (or whatever color you’ve applied to other), remove the corresponding MS pages, paperclip them together, and get started.
18. Once you reach the end of the OTHER scene cards, you should be left with scenes (and their corresponding MS pages) that don’t require changing. Put the whole MS back together now, in order, and set it somewhere safe. YOU’RE DONE WITH THE HARD PART.
19. OMGosh, YOU’RE DONE WITH THE HARD PART.
WOOHOO! You’re into the real nitty-gritty for your revisions, and this is going to take time. Don’t worry about that–do as much as you can when you can, and enjoy all this new creativity!
Best of all, know that when you’re done, you’ll have a really amazing manuscript on your hands! In Lesson 6, we’ll talk about typing in all your changes and dealing with line-edits.
And if you have ANY questions, ask them in the comments!!
Reminder: if you wish to print these lessons out, you can access the PDF versions from the For Writers page.
Lesson 1 → Lesson 2 → Lesson 3 → Lesson 4 → Lesson 5 → Lesson 6 →
May 19, 2011 @ 5:03 pm
I’m so with you on this one…revising on a hard copy is essential for me. So is color coding. But I use colored sticky flags that correspond to my notes. 😀 Similar to yours, just not quite as organized. lol I’ll have to give this a try.
May 20, 2011 @ 9:36 am
It’s amazing what a difference seeing your printed words can make on your creativity! And being able to easily flip through MS–it’s invaluable!!
June 5, 2012 @ 6:41 am
What do you do if you’re adding in a new scene? Do write it out here or in the next step?
June 5, 2012 @ 3:09 pm
It depends, Trinity! I usually keep extra paper on hand and hand-write new scenes. But sometimes I feel more like typing, so I’ll just type the new scene, print it out, and add it to my growing MS of changes. I definitely write the new step NOW–while I’m writing all my other changes. 🙂 I hope that helps!