Tag Archives: making revisions

Revisions #TheStruggleIsReal #amwriting

Making revisions is quite different from editing, although some people don’t see it that way. Editing is a process that begins when I send the final draft to my editor, usually a year or two out from when the story first lands on paper.

depthPart1revisionsLIRF05252021For me, revisions begin with the second draft and sometimes involve radical changes to the storyline or character arcs. I may take a manuscript through many drafts before finally getting the story right.

The process of revision starts when I write the final lines, finishing the first draft. I’m smarter now than I used to be, so I let that mess sit for a few weeks.

Then I go back and begin reading what I have written. As I read, I make corrections to typos and garbled sentences that I come across, although I miss as many as I catch.

I also notice plot holes, and this is where the second draft becomes work. This is where I might discover I have written myself into a far-fetched corner and my original solution was less than graceful.

Or I may find there is no tension, and the story is nothing but a series of character sketches.

Fortunately, much of what I have written can be recycled into a different project, should the need arise.

fileFolderNEVER DELETE months of work. Don’t trash what could be the seeds of another novel. Save it in an outtakes file and use it later. I give the subfile a name like HA_outtakes_20Dec2022. That file name tells me the cut chapters were last changed on December 20, 2022.

The old manuscript, version 1, will also be in that file in its original entirety.

FileDocumentThen, I give the second draft a new file name: Heavens_Altar_version_2, which becomes the version I work on out of the main file folder.

Why not just delete it? When I get to the second draft stage, I have accomplished many important things with the 3 months of work I might cut from that novel.

  • The world is solidly built.
  • The characters are firmly in my head, so their interactions will make sense in the new context.
  • Some sections I cut can be recycled into the new version, just in a different place.

Sometimes when I’m involved in creating characters, I overlook the misfortunes and struggles that create opportunities for growth. A good storyteller places obstacles on the path, events that must force a transformation upon the protagonists and their companions.

Catastrophes, even small ones on the most personal of levels, are the fertile ground from which adventure springs. When making revisions, we must ensure these growth opportunities are clearly defined, logical, and in the right place.

Events from which there is no turning back are the impetus of change, and that change is what the book is about.

Midpoint in the story’s arc is often a place where a choice is made from which there is no turning back. From that point, the narrative rises to the third plot point, an event that is either an actual death or a symbolic death. If either of these events is a non-starter, I have to either improve them or find better catastrophes.

This major event is critical because it forces the protagonist to be greater than they believed they could be. Conversely, it can break them down into their component parts.

Author-thoughtsEither way, the characters will be profoundly changed from who they thought they were on page one, becoming who they are when the final sentence is written. The character arc is formed by their experiences.

How do I find those catalysts for change? Sometimes I need an external eye to point out where I have gone wrong, and I seek ideas from my writing group.

However, most of my writing disasters are preceded by one or more points of no return. Identifying and rectifying those moments takes time. It’s why I take so long to write a book.

When I finally see what must be changed, it may take several days to visualize how to resolve it. But that time spent mind-wandering on paper is not wasted. I will have a better plot arc for my characters and still arrive at the ending I want.

I believe in the joy of writing and the elation of creating something powerful. Sometimes we lose our fire for a story because another story has captured our imagination. If that happens, set the first one aside and write the story you are passionate about.

We who are indies have the freedom to write what we want, when we want. The only deadlines we have to meet are the ones we set for ourselves.

Book- onstruction-sign copyTrue inspiration is not an everlasting firehose of ideas. Sometimes there are dry spells. If you take another look at the work you have cut and saved in an outtakes file, you might see it with fresh eyes. You might see the seeds of a different story, and the fire for writing will be reignited.

I may take my first draft through many versions before I have the story written the way I want it. The end result should be worth it—I hope.


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The Farmer’s Market, Volcanic Tofu, and Revisions #amwriting #writerlife

We had an exceptionally wet January here in my area of the Pacific Northwest. Usually, we get 8.19 inches (208 mm) of rain in January. But this year, we received 10.78 inches (273.8 mm) of precipitation. Some days, it just bucketed down.

MyWritingLife2021February here in my little town was dryer than usual, far less rainy than in other parts of the Northwest. We have seen the sun much more than usual over the last two weeks, which doesn’t bode well for the summer. I can’t help but think of the horrible heat we had last June. We don’t like it when it gets up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 Celsius). It’s literally hell when you realize most people here don’t have air conditioning in their homes. Up through the 1980s, we never needed it, as summers rarely topped 80 degrees (26.6).

But it’s still early March, and Saturday morning was cool and sunny, and a perfect day to go to the Farmers Market in Olympia. The local farms and greenhouses had a good selection of early organic vegetables. It was crowded with folks like us, masked and keeping a respectful distance, but all of us were hoping for good bargains.

512px-Igelstachelbart,_Hericium_erinaceusEdible mushrooms of all sorts abounded. One I hadn’t seen before, the lion’s mane mushroom, was the central feature in the displays of the two local craft fungi growers. It was interesting to look at, but … no.

Not on my plate, please.

However, local wines, hothouse veggies, winter apples, baked goods, carved boxes, silk scarves and hand-dipped candles abounded—the market was full of intriguing things .

Best of all, the musician on stage in the food court was really talented, a brilliant songwriter and guitarist. Great music, and a sunny day–what could top it?


So, we went to our favorite teriyaki restaurant, where I ordered my usual favorite dish, the spicy tofu bowl.

They must have a new cook. I can take a certain amount of culinary heat, and the dish I have grown to love over the last ten years can be tongue-tingling and a bit lip-burning.

But, on a scale of one to five, with one being bland and five the hottest, what I received was at least a ten on the volcanic pepper index.

I couldn’t eat it. But we had fun anyway. Now that I know a different cook is working there, I’ll order the teriyaki tofu bowl next time.

Apples 8-25-2013On the writing front, last week was quite productive. I received the final chapters back for my blended novel from my editor and am now going over the manuscript one last time. This is a merging of the stories of two characters and the events of one overarching plot arc. It’s the parallel stories of two battle mages, a father and son, told from their unique generational viewpoints.

It’s not working as separate books, and in the final book of that series, the protagonists join forces to work together anyway. Since being an indie means I can do whatever I think will improve my product, I decided to put their concurrent stories into one book, telling the story with no repetition of ground already covered.

When deciding whose point of view should be primary in each chapter, I chose the character with the most interesting angle on the action. For the first half, it’s more from John’s point of view, but Edwin’s story kicks into gear in the middle, and they join forces at the end, preparing for the final book. It’s epic fantasy, so it’s big and sweeping, but still less than half the length of a Robert Jordan or Tad Williams book.

The whole series is getting a facelift. I’m always learning, always trying to improve myself and my work. So, when something doesn’t work, I’m not ashamed of admitting I was wrong and changing it up.

Author-thoughtsThis merger of two novels into one involved cutting a number of chapters out of each and layering the stories so that the timeline moves forward at the right pace and doesn’t repeat what we already know.

I think that with my editor’s sharp eye pointing out the rough spots, we’ve achieved a smooth narrative, but time will tell. I will have the book professionally formatted for paperback, as I just don’t have the patience for that anymore.

So, that’s how I’m spending my spring afternoons, re-editing old works, and putting the final polish on Bleakbourne on Heath, the novel that began life as a weekly serial for a now-defunct website.

It has an actual ending now. Once the final chapters have been run by my writing group, I will publish it as a standalone novel.

Writing and publishing a chapter a week seemed so easy back in 2016 when I had the idea.

It’s not.

Oh, how foolish I was to commit to that! Writing the words is one thing. Words I had in abundance. But I had to edit them, revise them, and proofread them–which left me no time for writing anything else.

I couldn’t keep churning chapters out that pace, and then I didn’t know how to end the thing. So, I ended it with a wedding and left several threads dangling.

This last November, my writing group came through, helping me brainstorm it. With their help and the impetus of NaNoWriMo, I managed to pull off a credible ending.

So far this year, I’ve submitted a short story to the Masters Review short fiction contest. I did this hoping to at least get a critique of some sort. I don’t expect much as fantasy never does well in that particular contest, no matter how deep the themes and ideas presented. They say they want fiction in all genres, but really, they lean more toward literary fiction. The reason I took such a perilous plunge was to get a critique of that story by people who hadn’t read parts of it before, and who don’t know me.

magicAlso, I submitted my 2020 NaNoWriMo novel to PNWA’s literary contest in the category of fantasy and science fiction. All entrants will receive two critiques from that contest, which is why I sent my work in. The readers are people who read fantasy for pleasure. They have never seen my work, and my name isn’t attached to the manuscript. So, their insights will be unbiased, with no need to sugarcoat them.

And finally, on Friday, I had an epiphany. It occurred to me that I’ve been approaching one of my stalled works-in-progress from the wrong angle. This is a story that begs to be told from the first-person point of view. Once I did that, the words flowed.

The way I structure my writing day is to write new words in the morning and make revisions on other works in the afternoon. I don’t stagnate that way, and I feel like I’m making progress.

So, that’s the news from Casa del Jasperson. Fresh veggies, sunshine, and a lot of progress in the writing department.

I hope your winter has gone as well as mine.

Credits and Attributions:

Media:  Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Lebrac, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons.

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Igelstachelbart, Hericium erinaceus.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Igelstachelbart,_Hericium_erinaceus.jpg&oldid=490095032 (accessed March 6, 2022).


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How the Process of Editing Works part 1 #amwriting

Editing is a process where the editor goes over the manuscript line by line, pointing out areas that need attention. These might be awkward phrasings, grammatical errors, missing quote marks, or numerous other things that make the manuscript less readable.

toolsMost editors will ask to see the first twenty pages of your manuscript before they agree to accept the job. Sometimes, significant issues will need to be addressed. If so, an editor will probably refuse to accept your manuscript. However, they will tell you why and give you pointers on how to resolve the problems.

This is because freelance editors book projects in advance and can’t take on manuscripts that will bog them down for months.

During the editing process, some editors will generate a word-frequency report. Also, a style sheet will be developed for usages and unique spellings that may pertain to your manuscript. Check your email regularly because most editors will want to verify the spelling of names, invented words, and common words that may differ from standard usages to create that style sheet.

Be prepared—the editor will ask questions regularly as they come up. You must respond promptly to enable the editor to meet your agreed-upon deadline.

Conversely, most editors respond to your questions as soon as they receive your email. If your editor doesn’t respond in a timely fashion, you need to find out why. On rare occasions, you may need to find a different editor.

to err is human to edit divineFor new and beginning authors, it may take an editor more than one trip through a manuscript to straighten out all the kinks. This may be a three-step process involving you making the first round of revisions and/or explanations, sending them back to the editor, who will make final round of suggestions. At that point, the editor is done. You have the choice to either accept or reject those suggestions in your final manuscript.

In academic writing, editing involves looking at each sentence carefully and ensuring that it’s well designed and serves its purpose. In scholastic editing, every instance of grammatical dysfunction must be resolved.

A client’s future depends on the quality of their finished dissertation as much as it does the content. Their work will be measured by the standards of their department head and the academic world in general.

f scott fitzgerald quoteFor creative writing, editing is a stage of the writing process. A writer and editor work together to improve a draft by correcting punctuation and making words and sentences clearer, more precise. Weak sentences are made stronger, info dumps are weeded out, and important ideas are clarified. At the same time, strict attention is paid to the overall story arc.

The editor is not the author. Editors can only suggest revisions, but ultimately all changes must be approved and implemented by the author.

Some editors return your manuscript with suggestions for revisions noted in the reviewing pane on the right-hand side of the document. You click on each comment, then choose to make that change or not, and then delete the comment.

This is the least confusing way for new authors, but it takes more time for the editor to work their way through the manuscript. This is how a manuscript with comments in the reviewing pane might look:

Track Changes 3 comments in sidebarEditors who have been in the business for a long time find it much faster to use the markup function and insert inline changes. A new author or someone unfamiliar with how word-processing programs work might find it confusing and difficult to understand.

Track Changes 4 inserted revisionsInserting the changes and using Tracking cuts the time an editor spends on a manuscript. Writing comments takes time, and suggestions may not always be clear to the client.

Tracked changes are only SUGGESTED changes. To become permanent, they must be accepted. You may disagree with some of the tracked changes and choose to reject them. Below are the instructions for accepting and rejecting comments, followed by instructions for deleting comments made in the comment column.

If an editor has to insert many changes, they can become distracting to the author. Many editors use both inserted changes and comments when that is the case.

Word has several ways to customize how tracked changes appear:

  • Simple Markup: This shows the final version without inline markups. Red or black markers will appear in the left margin to indicate where a change has been made.
  • All Markup: This shows the final version with inline
  • No Markup: This shows the final version and hides all markups.
  • Original: This shows the original version before changes and hides all markups.

Places where an editor inserts a suggested change will be shown in a red font and have a line beneath them. Deleted items will be in red and have a line through them.

To accept or reject changes:

  1. Select the change you want to accept or reject.
  2. From the Review tab, click the Accept or Reject
  3. The markup will disappear, and MSWord will automatically jump to the next change. You can continue accepting or rejecting each change until you have reviewed all of them.
  4. Click the Track Changes command to turn off Track Changes when you’re finished. Just click on it, and the gray will return to the same shade as the rest of the ribbon.
  5. To accept all changes at once, click the Accept drop-down arrow, then select Accept All.
  6. If you no longer want to track your changes, you can choose to Accept All and Stop Tracking.

How to Remove comments

If your document has comments, they won’t be removed from the comment column when you accept or reject tracked changes. You’ll have to delete them separately.

  1. On the Review tab, in the Comments section, click Next to select a comment.
  2. On the Review tab, click Delete.

To delete all comments at once, click the arrow below the word Delete, and then click Delete All Comments in Document.

To turn off the Reviewing Pane:

Track Changes 2

Those changes are not permanent or engraved in stone. All you have to do is use the Track Changes function and click accept or reject for each change.

Some editors offer a separate report detailing their overall impressions of your manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses. Others will want to talk via the phone or Zoom.

Hiring a freelance editor is well worth the cost if you can afford it. You will learn many things about the craft of writing as you look at their suggestions.

ok to write garbage quote c j cherryhHowever, many authors don’t have the money to hire an editor. If that is the case, you may have a friend in your writing group who has some experience editing, and they will often help you at no cost. Your writing group is a well of inspiration, support, and wisdom, and they are invested in your book. They want you to succeed and most will gladly trade services.

Each editor is different and has their own style and approach to the task. But no matter how they approach the task of editing, all editors are readers who love what they do.

Editors want to help you make your manuscript as clean as possible because they love books. Next up, we will talk about what editors for publications look for when they are acquiring new work.


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