How to revise a novel

You’ve finished writing your novel (yay), and now you need to revise it. Where do you start?

Don’t start with your writers group. I mean, let’s face it — revising someone else’s novel? That’s purgatory. I’ve been through it, and I no longer fear death.

There’s no point in inflicting upon your friends a rough version of a novel. Polish it as much as possible before you get their feedback.

So try this:

1. Do a “save as” before you start revising.

You’ll thank me for this. Why have multiple back copies of your story? So you’ll feel more courageous about cutting and slashing and ripping the bloody guts out of the novel. You know your original material is safe. It’s not death — it’s metamorphosis.

A “save as” a day keeps the mental hospital away.

2. Buy a notebook.

A paper one. Remember paper?

While you’re savaging your manuscript onscreen, you’ll have a place to scribble down “replacement” ideas as they come to you. You come across a scene that needs to be changed, you hack it to death, you get new ideas, you script them out on paper, you get the idea. Continue reading