Revisions: The Overarching Edit

Revisions, as far as the definition of today’s article, are working on the whole of the work in drafts. Revisions should occur if you’ve finished your first draft of the scene, chapter, or novel. Recognize that everyone writes differently, but the process is the same. Say you’ve written your first draft and when you re-read it, there’s plot holes, chunks of story missing that you swore you wrote, or misalignments in storyline and character. One thing that could have happened is your story grew with you as it progressed. That’s honestly the best thing that could happen. It just means a little more work for you before you get your book to readers. The best approach I’ve found to this is seeing your re-write as your characters re-living the events of your story, but this time you have a better understanding of past, present, and future. The things you should watch for in your revisions are Plot/Structure, characterization, and whatever notes you made after reading your previous draft.


The 5 Stages of Freytag's Pyramid: Introduction to Dramatic Structure

Focus on how your story flows. Where are its hard points? By that I mean to ask about the critical scenes that make the story progress as it does. Often in any fiction writing, there are certain points in those books where the character could choose one path or another and that would completely change the storyline. In A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, Catelyn Stark is given the option between taking Tyrion Lannister captive or trying to play off her humble ride along the king’s road. The story would have changed had she made a different decision. No one could honestly say exactly what would change in the long run, but that short decision knocked over its own set of dominoes. This also ties into Structure, which is a more abstract portion of plot. While many speak of them separately, the one couldn’t exist without the other, though there can be strong plots in weak structures. And vice versa. When we think of structure, most imagine Freytag’s Pyramid. While there are many forms, this is the most common approach besides the Hero’s Journey, which can also form Freytag’s pyramid. Whatever structural approach you choose, stay consistent, and ensure you hit your marks. What are some of your favorite plots or structures? How can you use them to develop your revisions?

How to Use the Hero's Journey as a Life-Coaching Tool | Psychology Today


Characterization becomes important, as it will be the difference between keeping readers engaged and making them cry, throw the book across the room, or close it with a sense of completeness. Your characters are what will sell your book beyond initial readers. If you have characters like Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows, or Kelsier and Vin in The Mistborn Trilogy, you’ll have readers coming back to your book often. I’m never so excited as when I revisit these storylines and remember why I love those characters. So what can you do to make your characters memorable? And what should you be looking for in your revisions? Find the elements of the story that tie in with your character. Kelsier has the pits of Hathsin that damaged his body and mind, but is also a representation of how that society is destroying people through greed. Vin is an example of thrusting your character into an uncomfortable situation and no matter how much you try, Vin is still struggling with who she sees herself as. Look for elements that compliment and contrast your characters. Also, know your characters better than anyone else. Spend hours just getting to know them whether it’s through the story, off-screen interviews, taking personality tests for them, or whatever strategy works best for you. 

11 Character development ideas | character development, development,  character

Using your Notes:

If you didn’t write notes as you read your last draft, jot down what you can remember needing to add or remove in the manuscript. Don’t plan to use all of your notes, as ideas flourish with time, but don’t discount them either. Sometimes your given the cup, and other times the handle to the cup, but very few times are you gifted a full mug by your muse. So keep those handles and cups in your ideas drawer (or your notes) and you’ll find the real reason you wrote them down. There isn’t a correct way to take notes, but if you read something in your manuscript that makes you stop and think, write why. It may lead to better development of the story or yourself.

One thought on “Revisions: The Overarching Edit

  1. Pingback: Know Your Editing Approach – Myers Fiction

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.