Blog Highlights: Preparing for Manuscript Revisions

For the grand opening of this blog, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite blog posts and moments from over the years throughout the month of June.


Week One: Writing Tips and Advice





First posted on May 20, 2011

See the original post at:


With the first draft of WINTER done, it’s time for me to set my sights on revising, editing, polishing, and making overall presentable: Book 2: SCARLET.


Of course, this comes with mixed feelings.


Excitement at getting reacquainted with the characters and their adventures.


Anxiety that it’s going to suck a lot more than I remember it sucking.


Eagerness to make it the most awesomest thing I’ve ever written.


Fear that I’m going to royally screw it up.


Optimism that it’s going to be really easy and go really fast and when I send it to my editor she’s going to be completely blown away by what a spectacular genius I am.


Practicality that, okay, that’s probably not exactly how this is going to go.


With all these emotions vying for attention, it can be difficult to set them aside and actually get to work. Much better to give it another week to simmer in your subconscious, right?


So I usually start revisions by break the project into less-intimidating chunks. Here’s my game plan. [Full disclosure: this game plan didn’t actually exist until I started writing this blog post, but it doesn’t look half-bad does it? Multi-tasking FTW.]


Step one: Update my scene list.

The scene list is my favorite revision tool. It’s just a 2- to 3-sentence summary of each scene in the book that I can use to rearrange and add notes to, which tends to be much easier than mucking around with the full MS. The current scene list I have for Scarlet is a couple drafts old, so it needs to be refreshed to match the current draft.


Step two: Read through beta notes.

I have three (amazing, brilliant, stupendous) beta readers who have all been through the manuscript and given me much helpful input. Two things will happen as I read through their notes: easy changes (such as awkward sentence structure) will be fixed in the manuscript immediately, more difficult or thought-provoking suggestions will be noted on the scene list.


Step three: Play with the plot structure.

Using the scene list, I’ll fiddle and tweak, rearrange, delete, and add scenes until the overall plot structure is as sound and climactic as I can make it. I’ll also note which scenes need more action or suspense, and ideas for any new scenes that will strengthen the story.


Step four: Note places that could use more detail or description.

As based on my beta’s and my own notes, I’ll mark on the scene list any places that seem lackluster or could use some filling out.


Step five: Research.

Chances are by this point I’ve collected a bunch of things that need to be researched—settings, technology, genetic mutations, the usual. I like to group all my researching into one day or afternoon if I can.


Step six: Character work.

Now’s the time to do some soul searching to see if I can make my characters as vibrant and real as possible. I also want to add some depth to the villain in this draft if I can get it to fit with the plot.


Step seven: Write!

With my scene list, research, and character notes in hand, time to get back to work—cutting, rearranging, napping, writing, watching Firefly, rewriting, revising, daydreaming about book release parties, and editing. You know, the fun part.


What do you do to prepare yourself for the revision process?