7 Tips For Revision


Are you ready to start the revision process but not sure where to begin? Here are some ways to analyze your work in progress (WIP).

    • Make sure your WIP is easy to navigate by creating chapter title headings. If you are unfamiliar with this process, you can read more about it on Microsoft’s instructions for using the navigation pane on these pages.
    • Checking word count in each chapter of your WIP is a good way to analyze for pacing issues. Variation isn’t a bad thing, but if you have some major outliers, those might be chapters to review more closely.
    • Each major character should have an arc. Veronica Sicoe discusses this in depth. To see if your major characters have an arc, make a character arc chart for each. Ask yourself: Who is this character at the start, who is she at the end, how did she get here, what is her role in the cast of characters, what progress does she make toward her goals, toward the goals of the cast of characters, etc.
    • Speaking of characters, do they progress toward a goal in each chapter? Look carefully at each chapter in turn. If a chapter doesn’t address goals and stakes in some way, it likely needs to be cut. Ask yourself: Is the character on the verge of making an important decision? Is there an event in the works that will throw a character off balance? Is there a resolution on the horizon (that will likely be thwarted)? Do we learn why a character is moving toward or away from a thing? What is the most important thing that is happening in the chapter? How does it tie into the goals and stakes?
    • As you start to work through the above items, make notes in a revision journal, or start a revision outline. There is an example of this by “Into Another World,” HERE.
    • Use ctrl+F to find what editors and publishers call “crutch words.” You may have had someone point out a word or words that you use a lot. My most used crutch word is “had.” As hard as I try, it sneaks in way too often. Here are a few crutch words that are fairly common:
    • That
    • Just
    • Basically
    • Almost
    • Suddenly
    • Started
    • Really
    • Very
    • Look for words that can tip you off to passive voice issues (is, was, and were, for example) and feeling words that tell instead of showing (sad, happy, nervous, etc).
    • Double space your document and put in wide margins. This will give you plenty of space to make notes. Print the manuscript in its entirety. Use whatever is comfortable to take notes. I use flags of different colors to mark who is important in the chapter and different color pens to track the type of note I am making in a margin (character action, scene ideas, chapter movement, and inconsistencies are important). The idea here is to force your eyes to look at the document differently. Trust me. It works.

Do you want even more about the revision process? Holly Lisle has a great blog entry about this topic. In the end, if you are serious about making writing your career, you should not let your work leave your hands until it has gone through a rigorous review and revision process. You owe it to yourself, your readers, and your book.



Published by Tammy Bird, Author

I am a new author who struggles every day to balance my life as an educator and my life as a writer. I know how hard it is to stay positive, to learn, and to give back to those who give but, like you, I want it and so I move forward. Baby steps. I hope you will join me on this amazing journey. We are stronger together!

2 thoughts on “7 Tips For Revision

  1. Thank you. I am, too. When a beta reader pointed out my overuse of the word “had” and I did a search to see how many I used in my WIP, I was shocked. Who knew we had favorites? LOL


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