In the past few months I have been diligently revising, editing and rewriting my story through a series of drafts. There is still work that needs to be done. Each time I sit down to work I make a commitment to make it better. Each time I reread a chapter I discover how much I know about the story, how I can put it on the page and how to improve what’s already there. Nothing is perfect, but I am trying my best to make it as ready as I can before querying.
So what is revising? What does it mean to edit? What does it mean to rewrite? How do I know what to rewrite? These are some questions that I asked myself when I was first drafting. Editing focuses on a sentence level on spelling, grammar, punctuation and word choice. Revising has a lot to do with focus what’s on the page vs. what needs to be on the page, organization of the events in the story, and dialogue. But most important revising has a lot to do with asking questions. I will admit I’m not that great with grammar so editing really tries me. But when it comes to revising that’s where the story comes alive. I like revising.
Here are some of the questions that I ask when I’m revising:
- What does this character need in order to accomplish their goal? (in scene, chapter, their character arc)
- What is the objective in this chapter? Is it clear?
- How does it sound? (when read out loud)
- Do I really need this character to do this?
- Does this make sense?
- What do I need to clarify this part?
Addressing these questions as well as others that might come up often involves moving paragraphs around, removing paragraphs completely, extending ideas–dialogue, or cutting back on how much information is given. This is the part where rewriting happens and the story grows.
Rewriting is pretty self explanatory. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to rewrite your entire novel. Not unless you feel that’s what needs to be done. Sometimes you just need to rewrite the parts on a surface level, other times it’s rewriting a whole paragraph so that it makes more sense.
All of this takes time, patience and a love for your story and craft of writing. It’s not easy but stick to it and you’ll discover so much about the story you’re telling.