Revision: A Writer’s Best Weapon

No matter how far along in the draft you may be, we’re talking about Revision. Revision for the Big Picture items such as theme, stakes, plot, story goals or promise. An important aspect of revision: it’s best done apart from the drafting process. Don’t try for major revisions in theme, metaphor or conflict when you are drafting. Drafting is the stage where you junk it through, get it down or write s***y first drafts. Keep going until you at least know where your story is headed before you start to self-edit the global issues of your work.
For most writers, a three-step revision process that repeats is the most productive.
1. Drafting (creating), and allowing the draft to cool off,
2. revising Big Picture and
3. Revising for mechanics and all the rest
These three steps are distinct and vital facets in the writer’s arsenal. I start out with the overall or Big Picture items.

Writing Tip for Today: These three Revision Phases are all necessary. The key is not to do them all at once. Why would you recast a sentence if the entire theme needs adjusting? After a decent “cooling off” period of say, a week or longer, read through the scene, chapter or portion you created. Check to see if you have written in a cinematic way, like a movie. Is your work heavy on narrative (telling)? Conversely, you may have written in scenes but maybe chose the wrong places to dramatize (show). If you acted out an introduction or a scene that doesn’t move the story, you may have summarized something important.
Show the stuff that matters, tell the rest.
Remember: when you revise, check to be sure there is conflict (either physical, mental or emotional) on every page. Do not give your reader a chance to say, “I’ll read this next part later.” If you do, that reader may not be back.
Next: Big Picture Revision Tips

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Revision: A Writer’s Best Weapon

  1. Yes! After our discussion on “Big Picture” revision, we’ll talk about word choices, writing powerful sentences through fewer modifiers, and lots of other stuff that gives writers trouble in their rewrites. Stay tuned!

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