I love revising a novel. Here’s why — it’s WRITTEN. Somehow, I’ve managed to get the number of words needed for a book up on the computer screen. Love it or loathe it, I have something with which I can work.
Now the fun begins. 🙂
The first thing I do is create a PDF of the Scrivener file. If you’re a Scrivener person, you know that there are various ways to compile and create a PDF. I create an RTF file first, and load it into Pages, then I create a PDF from Pages. (The pages version is just an additional backup.)
Once I have the PDF, I load it to my iPad, and use iAnnotate to read the file, and make notes. On this first read through, I’m just reading for the story, nothing else. I make some brief notes.
I found this excellent checklist, The Bookshelf Muse: Using a Critique Checklist, or, How Not to Look Like a Twit. It’s meant for giving critiques, but it’s also excellent for revision. Keep these questions in mind, as you’re reading your draft:
“Overall Story Issues:
*Is the story problem clear?
* Is the voice realistic and consistent?
* Does the voice sound right for the author’s target audience? (Too young? Too old?)
* Does the chosen point of view (first, close third, omniscient, etc.) create the right level of intimacy or distance for the story? “
For a first draft review, the above four questions are vital. If the answer is “no” for any of them, you need to fix it.
Keep your eyes on the big picture
When you read through early drafts, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of scenes, and even of grammar and word choices. Ignore all that. None of it matters. There’s no point in tinkering with a scene, when you may well delete the entire scene.
Just answer the four questions, and make a brief note of issues you can see, so that you have a record of them.
I tend to write much more than I need, so I always have scenes which need to be deleted. Any important information in those scenes is dropped into other scenes.
By the time I’ve finished all that, it’s time for another read through, so I repeat the process.
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