How to Set Yourself Up for a Successful Revision

How to Set Yourself Up for a Successful Revision

Revision is a hot topic in many writers groups--and there is no end to the advice you can find about how to go about revising your novel. But there is one often overlooked step to a revision that I want to go over here to day. If you want to revise your novel, you want to make sure you are in the right mindset. Here are some important tips about changing your mindset before you start revising your novel:

Tip #1: Don’t rush.

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see writers make--they are in such a big hurry to get to The End (because it’s SO EXCITING) that they rush through the writing process. Friend, I am there with you. I finished my first draft and I’m about to burst with how excited I am to get it out into the world. But I know that I’m not doing myself any favors by rushing through the revision process. Finishing a first or second (or third) revision will be meaningless if I’m just focused on getting it done. And the rejection letters I will get would corroborate that fact.

Remind yourself early on that your goal isn’t just to get it done, but to tell your story well. Revise in service of that goal and you will find that your process is longer, but more fruitful.

Tip #2: Start with the big picture.

I know that phrase might sound vague so let me explain. There are different levels of editing that need to take place in a revision. The most important (and first) level is the story level or big picture level. These changes all involve your story theme (or point), character arc, narrative drive, cause-and-effect trajectory, etc… These revisions are typically made without any direct work on the manuscript. Only after you’ve determined the weak points and the areas you need to change do you approach your manuscript again.

Don’t make the mistake of diving in to your revision the same way you wrote the first draft--it’s a different beast. You can’t start at chapter one and magically know what to fix to set the right trajectory for the entire revision. You have to begin with the big picture and not work chapter by chapter.

Tip #3: Be honest.

Revision is hard work and requires a ruthlessly honest look at what isn’t working in your story. Sometimes it’s hard to admit when you need make major changes--but make a pact with yourself that you will be honest with yourself throughout this process.  It can make all the difference in how you approach your revision and save you lots of heartache during the long querying process.


I hope those tips were helpful! If you are still feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, I want to tell you about one of my favorite services—The First Chapter Edit.

The First Chapter Edit Package includes developmental editing (including inline comments) on the first ten pages of your story, an editing summary that gives you next steps and guidance about where to focus your efforts during your revision, and a post-editing conference call to discuss any questions or brainstorm ideas. Sound amazing! Check out pricing here or contact me here to book this package.

This package is a great way of getting outside eyes on your story and guidance on your revision without having to invest a ton of money in a full manuscript evaluation (when, let’s face it, you already know there is A LOT you want to change).

Ashly HilstComment