When it comes to writing a novel, most people don’t realise the process. They start their novel and write a bit every now and then, hoping for it to become the next best seller. After years and years, they finally have their manuscript and they send it to a publisher and the query is ignored.
Why? Because they left the most important part out. Revision. Now I’m not saying there is no way a novel can be published without revision, but rather that the chance is so minuscule that it doesn’t matter. Only if you are a master writer who has an enormous talent for writing.
Revising a manuscript is where the real work begins. You start off with a story in your head, and you write the first draft. You should put down the story as quickly as possible and not worry about things that happen differently than you expected. After you’re done, you can go back and fix the things you want.
I always used to go back and fix continuity errors in my draft stage, and change things at the beginning when I rethink a character later on. This time around though, I decided to stick with the advice everyone gives : Don’t make any changes on what you’ve already written. Just write down the story. Now my base plot changed quite a bit as I got to know my characters better and the opening scene now seems somewhat lacking. But I only worry about this after the draft.
In the beginning of the revision process, I’ll read through my manuscript like a book, only I’ll make some notes along the way. Now keep in mind that the notes consists of changes in the story, characters, or plot. Or the changing of scenes. Addition or deletion and characters or scenes. That is what I’ve been busy with so far.
But now that I gave it some thought, it seems that I might be doing things the wrong way again. It’s like this. You start off with the big things. The main plot. The main character. The entire story as a whole. Where does everything fit in. Then you go ahead and edit that until you’re happy. After that, you go one level lower. You start at the main story and work your way down to grammar and word choices. If you change the small things first, it might be for naught if you cut the scene and change a paragraph.
For now, I’m not sure what exactly falls into each category, or which elements are above which others, but I’ll work on that and see what to change as I revise my manuscript.
The most important part to remember about revision is that it is the most crucial part of your process. It is what determines your success. In the words of someone else (can’t recall who), “Good writing is good rewriting.”