6 Revision Tips To Help You Get Unstuck

Are you about to jump into edits on a novel, brochures, or even an ebook?

When I first started in the writing journey I had no idea how to go about the whole editing/revising process.

I sort of stumbled into a mucked muddy mess with my rain boots.

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When I think of revising, I like to envision a little girl running around in her rain boots.  remember a time in my life (I was probably 8-years-old) when I was stuck in the middle of the muddy garden in my rain boots. The garden had turned to an ocean of mud from all the rain we’d gotten.

When I was probably 8-years-old, I ran out into the middle of the muddy garden in my rain boots. What used to be my mom’s garden was now a muddy ocean. I tried pulling my feet out, but they got stuck deep in the mud. Panic filled me and I lifted my stocking covered feet and ran to a dryer area of safety.

My boots were stuck there for about a week or more.

Revising Is A Lot Like Walking In An Ocean Of Mud In Rainboots

When you sit down to revise any piece of work you need to get dirty. Get in there.

At the moment when I first started searching for help on revising I came across books and blog posts that were helpful. I also came across some not too helpful information, such as Holly Lisle’s “How To Revise Your Novel” course. It was extremely expensive for what you got. I don’t recommend her course. If you’d like to read more about why go here.

If you are teaching a course about revising, your course should be spotless. And not strewn with writing errors.

6 Revision Tips To Help You Get Unstuck

work life balance notebook

1. Print Out Your Content

This is something that really helps me. I work at a desk 24/7 and am always staring at a screen. Any moment that I can get away from the screen is a blessed moment, besides writing with my hand really helps me get in the groove. It helps me think in a different way.

Print your draft out and read through it once before you start editing.

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2. Set Your Pen Down And Read Through Your Work

Fight the urge to mark up your content right away. Read through it. Get acquainted with it again. Especially if you haven’t read it for awhile.

3. After Your First Read Through, Now Read It Outload And Make Notes On A Notepad

Since you finished your first read through, now read it out loud this time. Make sure you listen to the words you are reading.

Keep a notepad and pen near and write out anything like:

  • Awkward wording
  • Repeating words or sections of the story. (example: repeating words, and repeating actions.)
  • Are your characters (If you are writing fiction) doing too much. One problem that people face is that they say “Tommy was grabbing his cat and changing the channel to watch his favorite show.” That is a bad example, but you get what I’m saying.

Pro Tip: If you are writing a novel, make a note for each chapter and list which characters are present in each chapter so that you’ll be able to see where some characters seem to drop off the planet.

4. Aim To Read Through It In A Day Or 2

When you are doing a revision push yourself to read through your copy in a day or 2. Get it all in your mind while it’s fresh.

5. Write Out New Ideas That You’d Like To Add

When you are reading through it, you’ll find areas where you’d like to add stuff to or change.

After you finish a new chapter, write a paragraph on your notebook about what happened or what you’d like to happen (In case your story has changed since you last saw it.)

6. Start At The Beginning, Middle, Or End

Some people like to start editing from another place than the beginning. This tip is important, especially if you’ve already read it a few times from front to back. Start on edits at the end of the book.

Pro Tip: After reading it a few times, get some colorful pens out and start at the end of the book. Make edits in different colors. For example: If it’s a character problem highlight the sentence in yellow.

Also another thing that will help you know where you are is by writing in the upper right-hand corner where the chapter is set, which characters are involved, and what is the exciting tidbit of information that will help move the story forward. Keeping these things in mind will help move the story forward.

Write these at the top of each chapter:

  • Where is this chapter set?
  • Which characters are involved?
  • What is the exciting tidbit that will help move the story forward?

I also did a few interviews on revising with authors. You can check them out here:

  • Steven James on Revising
  • Jessica Bell on Revising 
  • Me on Revising (My editing tips from after finishing my 6th edit)
  • Susan Dennard on Revising (She also has a whole section on her blog about revision. WAY better than Holly Lisle’s. And it’s FREE.)
  • Katie Cross on Revising
  • Holly Brown on Revising

Great Revising Resources:

  1. Revision & Self Editing, by James Scott Bell
  2. Self Editing For Fiction Writers, by Renni Brown and Dave King
  3. The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
6 Revision Tips To Help You Get Unstuck

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Did I miss something that helps you revise your content better? If so, drop it in the comments section.


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