Revision Tactics

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on my second pass of revision for The Counterfeit Emperor.

The first pass was largely the process of straightening out a somewhat fractured original draft, full of notes-to-self like [This character now has a totally different backstory, go back and update it everywhere before this point] and [This scene is terrible, FIX IT] that would have rendered it nearly unintelligible to a potential reader. It wasn’t until the end of the first pass that I let anybody read any of it.

At that point, I had something like eight or ten beta readers who were kind enough to give their comments: my wife, family, friends, and even a critique on my first couple of chapters from Natalie Whipple, that I won in a writing contest on her blog. Once I got everyone’s feedback, my process was very methodical. I created a text file called “Notes from critical readings.txt” (I put all my notes in text files, don’t ask me why) and carefully sifted through all the advice.

Some of it – a fairly small portion – I simply discarded. Some changes were small enough I simply made them right then and deleted them from the list. Some comments came from more than one person, so I combined those. Everything that was left, I dumped into a big list with all my own revision notes, then organized those by what part of the book they belonged to. And now, as I get to each new section of the book, I consult my list, decide what changes each revision will mean for each scene, and revise the scene accordingly.

Even that’s an oversimplification. My writing process creates lots of artifacts. I have a Timeline.xlsx, a Character Descriptions.txt, a Character Profiles.txt, a New Ending.txt, and dozens of other files that I consult regularly and not-so-regularly.

It’s complicated, but it all makes sense in my own brain.


I should note that all of the above is totally descriptive, not prescriptive. Everyone’s process is different, and I think most writers cringe at the thought of trying to use any other writer’s revision tactics. Do what works for you.

Second pass revision progress: 66% (Woo, two-thirds done!!) The last few days I haven’t had as much time to write as I would like, because we just had carpet installed (looks very nice, btw) but I get tomorrow off work so hopefully I can catch up then.

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