I love having new weapons in my revision arsenal, don’t you? Talia’s checklist is going IN. That’s some heavy firepower. I’ll be working one of those up as soon as I’m finished with my first draft.
To finish out our week on writing process, thanks to comments by PB Rippey and Anonymous, here are a few techniques I used to revise my novel:
My story is sort of a quest/journey so a map was a necessity. I drew this up on heavy posterboard. I checked and rechecked the distances, making sure that one week of travel on foot could actually get my characters where I said it could. Also, this helped me give shape to the overall geography. Gradual transitions from sea to mountainous regions became easier to track because of the map.
This is pretty self-explanatory. My story happens over the course of 58 days. I know what happens on each and every one. My dad helped me map this out on posterboard, so I have a timeline for everything. (Thanks, Dad!)
Oh, the cards! These I used for Macro changes. Cutting scenes. Following subplots and setting. Expanding on bigger story elements. It works particularly well for multiple POVs.
I purchased a stack of colored cards. I used heavy card stock, larger and sturdier than post-it notes.
Each chapter got a card. (All forty-five of them)
Each character got a color. (Two POV characters, so two colors)
I wrote out a chapter number and header across the top.
Below, I wrote the setting, plot and subplot.
I laid it all out on foam board.
Then, as I was working through my revision, I attached post it notes to scenes with ideas/changes that needed to be made. Post-its were great for this because I could move them around easily. Scenes bogged down with post its full of ideas needed the most work, obviously. I cut two scenes this way, transferring the information to post its that landed on other cards/chapters.
This is how I approached line edits & finer points in the revision.
I had my manuscript (with my editor’s notes) double-side printed and spiral bound at Kinkos. On the cover, I wrote out the big ideas I wanted to tackle. Then I went through page by page and highlighted every single change on the hard copy as I made it on the computer.
I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to do this. Every highlighted slash was like a tiny victory. One step toward the end.
If I came to a comment I couldn’t tackle, I added one of those post-it flags and saved those for the end, or for when I was feeling particularly motivated.
I did several passes through my manuscript this way. For me, it helped a ton to see it printed out. To have something I could hold and make notes in and read like it was a real book.
A nice side benefit is that I have a stack of bound printouts of my manuscript that show—very plainly—the improvements I made with each pass. It’s sort of encouraging to see that stack now and then. Reminds me that it’s just about working and working and working.
You can see several of these techniques in play in the photo above. You can also see coffee and chocolate chip cookies. (And, if I’m being honest, wine later on that day.) Don’t’ forget those as you revise. It’s the small rewards that get you through.
A final thought: I’m amazed by how agile we need to be as writers. I just finished revising my novel and recently began drafting another. The shift is drastic. It’s going from charts and maps and notes to a blank page. To that flashing line on a word document that asks you what’s next? what’s next? what’s next?
What’s next for you?


Very nice. I particularly like the set of tools you developed (map, calendar, cards, etc.) and the idea of combining your process with Talia's.

I stole your spiral binding idea for my last two revisions, V. Right now, the second one bristles with little post-it tabs of the things that need attention. I love getting ideas from all the Muses!

I'm combining too! I've added the tabbed spiral binding for line edits, the calendar to track days of events AND the chocolate chip cookies.

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