Tackling First Revisions

Hello hello! Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season. I’m here refilling my tea and setting up snowflake decorations!

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of taking a break after a major writing accomplishment; in my case, it was after writing my newest book’s first draft in 30 days. I was TIRED by the end of day 30! And I took a little less than a month for a break.

Now I’m back to it! But before I simply dove into my WIP (work in progress) again, I had to figure out what my current goals are for this first round of revisions. When you start revisions for the very first time, it can feel like a *lot* to tackle. Where to begin?

To start, my first revisions will be developmental edits. Essentially, I’m focusing on big-picture questions around the plot, my main character, her arc, the story itself, etc. I’m not focusing on line edits (which is more about making the actual words/sentences flow better) or copy edits (namely grammar, punctuation, or spelling). Granted, I sneak those other edits in sometimes, but I don’t focus on them yet.

Why? Because it’s important to make sure the foundation of my story is solid and can be built upon and polished from there. If I spend forever making the words sound lovely and the grammar perfect, only to realize that chapter needs to be cut because it doesn’t serve the story, then I’ve wasted a bunch of time. It can be seen as practice I suppose, but still, I’d much rather get my foundation on solid ground first.

So, back to developmental edits! My first task has been rereading my draft from start to finish, and taking notes in the comments (I draft on Google Sheets). I’ve been approaching it much more like a beta reader now that I have more practice with that, and I’m focusing mostly on bigger picture edits. One of my big changes from the first draft is that I’m changing my story to a dual POV, which means I’m adding in brand new chapters and tweaking some existing ones to fit the other main character. When I wrote my first draft, I wasn’t sure yet if I’d want a second POV, but around the 50% mark I knew my story would be better served with two POVs. I kept drafting only one POV though, even though I’d changed my mind, because I wasn’t sure yet what chapters would change.

That’s another big part of this draft: figuring out my second main character’s (MC) arc. It exists a bit in the first draft, but in order for this character to now be on the main stage with my other MC, he really needs a strong, satisfying arc and very clear goals. By making him a second MC with chapters told through his perspective, he has to be able to stand on his own. It can’t feel like I wrote one great MC, the one I started with, while the second is just…kinda there. If I can’t tell the entire book from his perspective and he doesn’t have a fulfilling arc/story to tell, then, well, he doesn’t deserve to be an MC. So this has been a huge focus for my revisions plan!

Other parts of my revision plan include: building out my outline to reflect the above changes, thinking through the locations I’ve chosen and seeing how I can make them more interesting/built out, going through each of my characters and making sure their voices are clear/engaging and that they all feel different, and that they have a clear purpose to the story. I’m also trying to tackle any big questions I had while drafting, including such things as setting up my villain better and earlier on. As I do my initial readthrough of this full draft, I’m watching out for a bunch of different things that will help make the story better. 

My current goal for this month is to have everything prepped and ready to go for actual revisions next month. If I can get all my thoughts and ideas clearly in place, it’ll be much easier to simply enact the plan and start making changes. This stage of revisions is incredibly important, so I’m making sure to really think everything through. If all goes well, I’ll have my first beta readers in the winter!

Sending lots of holiday cheer your way!
Valerie

P.S. That photo is from my days in NYC, getting macarons before work. A little throwback to one of my favorite cities 🙂

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