The feedback on the manuscript to be revised has been collected and the plan (a little or a lot of one) has been set. Step three in the process is to dive into the work of revising the story.
I have found that this step happens one of two ways. The revisions can be worked either going in order from the first chapter through to the last or jumping from chapter to chapter regardless of order. For me, like the decision to use digital versus paper in my note taking process, I jump between the two depending on what are the most critical revisions for the story. Mostly I go through in order of the chapters because it is the most efficient way to weave in any new character threads or plot points. Sometimes though, especially if a story needs a huge hole filled requiring the creation of a few new chapters, I may jump from one section of the story to the next. If I know for instance that the second act needs three new chapters written, I’ll write those first and then go back to the first act and start making my way through it. This can also happen when I’m working through the revisions and a story epiphany hits me hard and I have to go to where the epiphany happens and get it into the story while the muse has her hand on my shoulder. I’ve learned over the years to be as fluid as I can be during this part of the process so the revisions I make are as strong as they can be.
Like the other steps in this process, and everything to do with creating quality writing, it is so important here to take time with this step and not rush the process. And, like every other step, I struggle here. Sometimes a whole heck of a lot. When I’ve reached this part of the process and I’ve got a solid plan in place, I just want to run with it. I want to run with it so I can get from the beginning to the end to see the beauty that will be the revised manuscript. I’ve learned over the years that if I cave to that energy, I miss out on the very special magic that happens during this step of the process. I miss out on the magic of writing in a space I’ve created, in a world that lives on the page and not in my head, and the characters are doing the things they’ve done with the things I didn’t see before, and suddenly I reach a completely different level of understanding than I had before. It’s a story or character understanding that just could not have happened before this step, because I didn’t know the story the way I do right there in that moment. Rushing this step would mean I’d miss out on writing from that space and experiencing those moments. Those moments of understanding deepen the story and are absolutely vital to the last step in my revision process.
In case you haven’t been told today, you are more than enough.
I want to share a very important two part disclaimer. First, this process is going to vary writer to writer, and sometimes, project to project. The steps I’ll talk about in this series are based on the steps I follow now, which are the result of a lot of trial and error over the years based on a whole lot of different processes I’ve read about or seen used. Second, this process is about revising a manuscript for big picture/whole story fixes. This isn’t about line editing for grammar and/or punctuation mistakes.