First Revision on Deadline – in pictures

Midway through June I posted some anticipated stats for a major revision (which, as you may have guessed, was for my debut novel). This has been my most ambitious revision to date, and was also my first on a deadline. I worked on it every day from the morning I talked through changes with my editor to the day I handed it in to her– not to mention the two and a half weeks beforehand it took to translate the edit letter and all margin notes into a game plan.

Here’s a glimpse of what that revision looked like.


Projected Revision Stats

Three weeks ago tonight, I received an edit letter outlining all the major (and minor) changes I needed to be thinking about as I revise my YA novel. But what does a traditional track revision look like in terms of work? Well, I’ll give you a hint: it’s more than moving commas around.

AHEM *fetches reading glasses*

long scroll

Here are my projected stats for this revision:

CUTS: 12 scenes, 3-4 threads, ~4 characters (+1 with almost no page time)

COMPLETELY NEW MATERIAL: 10 scenes, 17 other significant* insertions

MAJOR REWRITES: 15 scenes, plus 12 with substantial adjustments

LINE EDITS: *delirious laughter* 80+ tweaks of substance, X more for fine details, & a large, uncounted number of cuts.

*significant = in terms of creative brain power, not necessarily length


There will be other changes that are harder to quantify, too. But the bottom line is: I know my book is going to be much stronger after this.

That makes me a happy writer.


Revision, Or: Hell & Hot Pockets

Warning: I use an uncharacteristic amount of expletives in this post. I guess I feel quite strongly about revision.

30 Day Know Thyself Writing Challenge, Day 19: Describe your revision process.

Haaaahahaha…“process”. That implies organization.

My revisioning is rather haphazard, actually. It’s kind of like trying to put out a fire with gasoline, and then throwing firecrackers and Hot Pockets at it. You still get a Hot Pocket out of the deal, but that by no means guarantees satisfaction. In fact, it’s more likely to do the opposite.

Here’s how my revision typically goes down:

I start writing something.

I labor over the first few sentences; with any luck I have a few paragraphs down before the self-editing starts.

A sentence from the first paragraph spontaneously combusts.

I rush to the scene to quell the offending flame. But before I have the first offense under tabs another six spring up.

I turn my attention to the new problems and, just when I think I’ve thrown an adequate amount of water on them, TURNS OUT THEY’RE GREMLINS AND THE BASTARDS MULTIPLY



It’s cool bro, don’t matter, just keep writing. Even Hemingway said that the first draft of everything is shit. It doesn’t have to be good now, just get some words on the page and fix things later. Whew, okay, I can do this.

A few sentences later:


And on it goes, with sentences exploding and whole sections being torched in favor of a new draft, until somehow, miraculously and against all odds, I crawl out of a chapter or short story some weeks later with one shoe, shredded clothing, hairy legs and a week’s supply of Cheetos Puffs wrappers. Oh yes: and in this rare, victorious moment I am clutching a complete first draft. Which is, theoretically, where revisions should actually begin.


In summation, my revision “process” is a total nightmare and in desperate need of work. I particularly need to get comfortable with writing poorly so that it doesn’t take forever to complete a single draft.

For first-time readers, I’d like you to assure you that I’m actually a very mild-mannered person. My regular posts do not contain gratuitous strands of capital letters, weird swears, Hot Pockets or Cheetos. I don’t even like Hot Pockets. Please don’t run away. Watch the funny man rip on Hot Pockets instead.