5 Revision Tips

I admit it — I really, really, really want to get to the rewrite! Dive into the words, hang ten with them, splash, frolic, crash, fall, jump, and play with the words. Each time I’m tempted to give into the urge to write, the revising I’m doing shines a brilliant light. Again and again I’m shown a new angle, a dangling plot line, what scenes hold the energy, where the meaning is, what is the purpose and the relevance of each scene to the overall plot, story, character emotional development. After having just completed one of the most tedious of the 30 revision exercises in PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month — for my novel-in-progress, The Avenue, currently in the revision process — I share 5 revision tips with you. 

5 revision tips

Begin and End

Mark on the hard copy of your manuscript where each scene and each summary begin and end. Depending on how long your story, this exercise can take much longer than the suggested one day in Revise Your Novel in a Month. The time and thought you put into this one tip alone shed light on so many aspects of your writing and your story. 

  1. Taking note of where each scene begins and ends gives you an immediate and concrete sense of how many scenes you have in each chapter, section (beginning, 1st 1/2 middle, 2nd 1/2 middle, end), and total, and how long or short your scenes are. 
    • for instance, I find in the rough, first draft of The Avenue, the scene count in the 1st 1/2 of the middle and the end is manageable. However, the scene counts for the beginning and the 2nd 1/2 of the middle are massive and will need to be cut, reworked, repositioned before undertaking the rewrite (let me tell you, I’m glad to know that now and not after a complete rewrite without first revising)

Scene Title

Give each scene a title — no more than one or two words. Choose scene titles that are immediately recognizable. The scene title gives you a clear reminder of the relevance / action / character development in the scene itself

  1. Just this one exercise alone helps you focus on the meaning and purpose of each and every scene

  2. Also, the practice of coming up with a pithy title for each scene improves your skill in coming up with the book title, taking the story from a working title to one that best conveys the truth of your story

  3. The major characters, action, and themes of your story show up in these scene titles you create

Page Numbers

Indicate the page numbers for each scene 

  1. Knowing how long or short each scene allows you to better assess the importance of the scenes and their placement in the story
  2. Suddenly, you’re able to turn to the specific scene you want by page number rather than slogging through the manuscript itself. With the scene title and page number, you know exactly where to find your scenes 

Scene Tracker

Add the chapter, scene title, scene number, and page numbers to a Scene Tracker

  1. I’m using Scene Trackers in The Plot Whisperer Workbook (yes, I’ve used the workbook before, I actually have a PW Workbook for each novel I’ve written — wonderful keepsake for the projects. This, however, is the first time I’m actually using the Scene Trackers and Plot Planners provided in the workbook itself). I’m waiting to fill in the seven essential elements for each scene and the scene type (from Writing Deep Scenes) when I start the actual rewrite

Plot Planner

  • Add the scene title to a Plot Planner 
    1. Again, I’m using the Plot Planners in The Plot Whisperer Workbook and loving having everything I need for the rewrite right in front of me in the workbook and the hard copy of the manuscript.
    2. The instant a scene is placed above or below the Plot Planner line, I immediately assess where the energy of the scenes work together to build to the Energetic Markers.  A line of scenes above and below the line either flow and support each other or need work. The slow, below-the-line scenes cry out for excitement. Scenes above-the-line give clues how to pump the energy even higher.

(** for an easy straight-forward, step-by-step explanation how to create your own Plot Planner and Scene Tracker for your own unique story, Writing Blockbuster Plots)

One Breath-Taking Moment

Plot PlannerThese are only 5 Revision Tips out of the 30 exercises that make up the complete on-line video course PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month. Use them to help you understand how your story is linked together, each scene like a puzzle piece that fits perfectly into one breath-taking moment (seeing as how, as a kid, I put together jigsaw puzzles with the pieces facedown makes sense why I’m the Plot Whisperer to so many writers through plot consultations, my books, these blog posts, and my video programs!) 

By the end of performing these 5 revision tips:

  • coming up with scene titles
  • determining where your scenes begin and end
  • evaluating scene lengths
  • track scenes on a Scene Tracker
  • plot scenes above or below the line on your Plot Planner 

you grasp a truer sense of what your story is really trying to say, show, share. You’re no longer so involved at the word level that you lose sight of the bigger picture, like beach combing for sea glass — mermaid’s jewels — we forget to look up at the majesty of the sea. If you’re lucky, you just might look in time to see a humpie breeching in your own story.

Yes, I’m impatient, excited, and eager to begin rewriting. However, these 5 revision tips and all the other exercises I perform in Revise Your Novel in a Month, are proving valuable, giving me insights into making for a most promising and profound rewrite. 

Whatever stage you are right now, I wish you joy in discovering the marvels that await you through your passion for writing.