Hey guys! So, I'm pretty sure I've done a blog post about my revision process before, but I feel like I've honed it and its changed over the past few years and since I'm right in the middle of not one, not two, but three books that need revising, I thought I'd share my process on here. First of all, though, I have to say it’s getting cold out!! Fall is coming! It's September and I got to wear jeans and break out my jackets and my boots!! Every year the end of summer and the start of Fall always makes me so happy. October is my favorite month (second only to March) so I'm excited for October to roll around. Not to mention there are so many great books coming out this Fall and the new album of Twenty-One Pilots comes out in October too. So, seriously, this Fall is going to be pretty great.
I had been debating on whether to buy Scrivener or not for a while now and checked out the free trial and last week finally just decided to do it. There are so many great tools and tricks on there and its already been so helpful in my revising process. I wrote Second Star to the Right on Wattpad and really liked the style of each chapter having its own section and when I realized Scrivener has the same application that pretty much sealed the deal. I'm very goal oriented so it helped me to say Ok I'm going to finish this chapter and this chapter today and then see exactly how many words I finished, and it just made me feel good to see how much I finished instead of having an entire one length document with one huge word count that felt daunting.
After I finished the first draft to Second Star to the Right, I decided to start revising Blood Brothers. I want it to be ready to put on Wattpad no later than November, so it needs to be a priority over my other projects (besides Project Hellion which is still in the middle of edits...). The second draft of Blood Brothers was... daunting and grueling and difficult. I think it’s more because of the head-space I was in for the past week that I started working on it. Before even writing this sequel, the title came to me and I really want Blood Brothers to be the title, but to do that I needed to add a few plotlines that I completely didn't add in the first draft... which meant lots of writing. Anyways, all that being said, here is my revision process. Each book requires different steps and different lengths of time, so this isn't a set formula that I use for every single book, but it’s the same sort of structure.
Draft 1: The skeleton draft. Some first drafts are super clean and the writer's plot everything out before writing it. They already know their characters super well and how the book will end. That... is not me. Usually when I start a first draft I have a passion for the story and an itch to get it written. I have names for characters and a rough, broad idea of who they are as people and their personalities. Same goes for the plot. Sometimes I have a few big plot points that I know I absolutely want to add (usually this happens for sequels) and then other times I just sort of start writing, building on the idea I got. Normally I do know the villain, the main problem and a vague idea of how it will end, but always I am blind-sided by something. My best friend and I have talked about this numerous times as I write a first draft. I have a plan, I attempt to execute the plan but then my characters take on a life of their own and hijack my plan and suddenly the plan goes out the window. The book usually ends up being completely different and not at all what I expected, but usually still satisfying with lots of potential by the end of the first draft. In other words, my first drafts are organized chaos.
Draft 2: This is my least favorite part of the revision process. Draft two is for the huge changes. Where I write in whole new chapters, rewrite whole chapters or chunks of the story. Where I completely switch around, delete, change, or add scenes and plotlines. This is where the big stuff happens. For Blood Brothers, I just finished draft 2 which means I wrote out by hand the plot scene by scene and then added the plotlines and scenes that I needed to add and then went about writing them and rewriting a few chapters. Now, this is important: I may add entirely new characters, new subplots and major plotlines, but I do not tweak or fix the story to fit around them. So, say I added an important new character in the middle of the book, in that section of the book that new character is real and is talked about. But then I don't add him/her in the rest of the book in this draft. Once I add him/her or some huge revelation I leave it and move onto the next big revelation plot-thing until I have all the big stuff done. So... I guess you could say this draft is also organized chaos. Don't worry, I promise I know what I'm doing... kind of.
Draft 3: Before starting the third draft I rejoice in the fact that I am finished with the big, messy, macro book surgery part of the drafting and then I happily move on to draft three. If we're sticking with the surgery concept, draft 2 is where I open the book up and make extensive changes, draft three is where I get to sew it up. The sewing is still a little ugly by the end but it’s getting there. I fix inconsistencies and make all the new and old plotlines and subplots and characters line up. I fix the macro pacing of the story, so it actually resembles a story with a beginning, middle and end that make sense and isn't all over the place. This draft has more organized than chaos in it and there's just something sort of nice about this draft. I get to sit down with some tea and put on some music or a TV show to listen to and fix things up and smooth it all out.
Draft 4: After draft 3, the rest of the revision process becomes less defined. Those first three steps I do for pretty much every book, but not every book has the same problems. Draft four of one book might be focused on character, another on plot and another on pacing or action. For Blood Brothers, the fourth draft will consist of cleaning up characters. I know Tabitha and Sebastian pretty well, but I already know there are certain parts of the book that they act out of character. Some of my writing isn't very good in a few of the newer chapters I added so I have to fix that up too. One character completely just left and was never mentioned again so I have to fix that and figure out what he's doing and where he went. Actually, in this book all the characters are sort of all over the place, doing things in parts of the book they shouldn't be doing. So more or less in this draft I start to narrow in on different areas of the book and fixing up the things that I'm most concerned about.
Draft 5: Depending on how much work a book needs and what I get done in draft 4, this is also usually a macro revision too narrowing in on one aspect of the book. If I fixed up characters in draft 4, then I fix up smaller problems in plot and pacing in draft 5.
Draft 6: This is the sweet spot for me. Early in the revision process everything is too broad, and macro and it feels like there's so much to do. Too late in the revision process and things like word choice and sentence structure and all the tiny little details get tedious and annoying. But around draft 6 is my favorite because it’s not too tedious but not too daunting either. This is where I look at smaller inconsistencies, fix up and tinker with different areas of the book. I look over it, write out by hand the plot scene by scene to make sure things make sense and if certain things don't line up I fix that. Pretty much in the sixth draft I'm polishing the plot and characters.
Beyond drafts 1-6 it all just depends on the book. Sterling Silver had eight drafts while Golden is currently on its twelfth I think? Second Star to the Right won't need as many drafts as Golden or Project Hellion just because it came to me more compact and put together. But for Second Star to the Right, I'll have to put more work into the characters and character development than I would for Golden. For Golden the major problem isn't the characters but the plot. So, it all just depends on the book. Like I said, this isn't a formula I use every single time. Each book has its own set of problems and demands different steps, but more or less these steps are what I use to revise my books.
The Final Draft: Finishing this draft is, like, the best feeling ever. No, I think it’s tied with finishing a first draft because first drafts can be hard people! But when you go from a skeleton draft, a draft that is so messy and disorganized you really don't even know what is going on to a full-on book that makes sense and has great characters and a beginning, middle and end it’s just the best feeling. You did so much and put so many hours and sometimes tears and lots of frustrated moments of wanting to give up into this book but because you didn't give up you actually did it. Now congratulate yourself with something yummy and a much-needed break!
Have a great week everyone!