Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Stages of Revision

This just in from the Department of Redundancy Department, Division for Provision of Revision. I thought I'd share this for all of you who have reached the stage of finishing the draft of your next book. Perhaps it will help...

The Stages of Revision

Stage One: Optimism:

This won't take long, the book's done. Hooray!
  • spell check, that was easy
  • looks nice
  • format
  • print

Stage Two: Initial Edit

Follow Stephen King's advice. Ferret out passive voice. Fewer adverbs. "Kill your darlings".
  • assessment
  • rearrange
  • note ideas with red pen
  • cross out things with red pen.
  • discover serious continuity issues
  • discover you used the same word two hundred and ninety-seven times
  • cross out more things with red pen
  • doubts creep in

Stage Three: Despair

Why did I begin this in the first place?
  • this book sucks
  • why would anyone care what happens to that character?
  • it's a thriller; it's full of people getting killed, why does this depress me?
  • what was I thinking of?
  • why would anyone think this could actually happen?

Stage Four: Salvage

It's not the Titanic.
  • add more sex
  • edit again
  • drink more coffee
  • add whiskey to coffee
  • edit again
  • drink whiskey without coffee
  • turn off computer

Stage Five: "Final" revision

  • I can't look at this anymore
  • take out some of what I just added
  • put some of it back
  • I really can't look at this again
  • consider Beta readers

Stage Six: Beta

  • convert format to send to readers
  • catch a mistake, edit, reformat
  • email to readers with caveats
  • consider becoming a janitor, dentist or Life Coach
  • wait for comments

Stage Seven: Acceptance

  • readers point out glaring errors and Freudian slips
  • incorporate good suggestions
  • notice annoyance at picky picky comments
  • final edit, more coffee.
  • more whiskey
  • the inner editor quits
  • final format
  • make mistakes in formatting, reformat
  • submit

Stage Eight: Optimism: Plan next book


  1. Sounds about right, except I went through 22 stages with my forthcoming book. I'm about to face the first significant, ie, based on reader feedback, rewrite of my new one. Writing a first draft is like Christmas/vacation/getting married/having a baby for me. But revising...I cower before the task.

  2. Very funny--nicely done as well . :)


  3. Hi Angela, thanks for your comment!


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