I just accidentally stumbled upon my new favorite way to revise a first draft and I have to record it for future use. If someone else learns from it and borrows it…even better! I should explain that my old version went something like this: write a draft, start reading the draft to look for places where you can improve, find one, fix that one, forget where you were, start reading from the beginning, find another place, fix that one, forget where you were…you get the idea. It often ended up that the beginning of the books was better than the end by the time I handed it to betas. Well no more of that! I came up with a new strategy.
Step 1: Well, you actually have to write the first draft. Sorry, that’s the way it goes. But the good news is you can write that first draft without worrying about it being good because it’s a first draft. Mine was worse than pond scum.
Step 2: Stop and think like a reader. What were you still wondering, questioning, wanting, or dreaming about in relation to this book? WRITE IT DOWN. I gave myself like 2 days for this to really sink in, I had a notebook with me all the time and I made notes when I thought of something. Little, big…anything!
Step 2 ½: Print a copy of the manuscript. I use Office Max copy and print center even though I have a printer because I can get it bound.
Step 3: Write each one of those things you brainstormed down on a separate little sticky note flag. I only wrote enough to remind myself what it was (like 1-2 words). Line those babies up along the back of a print copy of the manuscript, right on the inside cover.
Step 4: Sit down with the manuscript, a cup of your favorite beverage, and a pen. Read. When you come to a spot where that question could’ve been answered or addressed, put the sticky note in. Jot down anything relevant but don’t stop to write it right now. Keep going.
Step 5: Now take your new baby manuscript and rework/rewrite/add.
I personally found this method to be way more productive. I was able to remind myself to get all the little questions or plot holes plugged up without having to stop right then and work on them. Later, I just flipped through and found my sticky notes. It was amazing. I WILL be doing this again!
If you have awesome revision ideas I should be borrowing, drop them in the comments. Thanks in advance and happy writing!