Monday 14 November 2022

Knowing When To Revise - The After Process


I know that I've talked about this before, but I can't seem to find the blog post, so I thought that I would cover it again. For reference, when I talk about editing and revising, I see them as two different steps in the process. Editing, to me, is when you're working with a professional editor, and going through that process. Revising is when you're doing it with the help of betas, CPs, and sensitivity readers and the like. I separate the two just because it's easier for me to then talk about which one I'm referring to.

So how do you know when to revise? I mean, wouldn't it be obvious that when you finish that first draft, you then, by my definition above, jump back in and rework it into the second draft and beyond? I think it can work like that, but it's also not the way I work. I like to put some space between the first draft and the second. I know that I'm lucky to be able to do that because were I working to a tight deadline, then it just wouldn't be possible.

For a quick recap, I write, usually, about four books a year. I have just, at the time of writing, finished my 40th first draft, and tomorrow my 20th book releases (you can pre-order it here!) so it should be obvious that I have time and the ability to put a whole lot of space between any second draft should I wish to. I don't think everyone would have that ability and I'm not going to tell you to put years between them. It works for me, but I am very aware that it just won't for many other writers.

So what do I advise? I'm going to give you some things to think about when it comes to revising, and hope that at least one of them will be something you can use yourself.


I ask this simply because something that a lot of writers will tell you is that the fresher the story, the harder it is to look at it with new eyes. One of the pitfalls of revision is that you do already know the story. The more you go over it, the more static it becomes in your mind. If you've only just finished writing it and can remember every plot beat and twist, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't start revision, but that maybe you will need to be extra careful about not missing things. That's one thing that works against us writers, you read something, know it enough, that your brain will just tell you something's there when it's not.

Another thing, and a reason to include betas and the like is, you wrote this story, so you know how it goes and where it ends. Things might seem clear to you because you wrote it, but they may not be as obvious as you'd have thought to someone else. If you're still able to clearly reference chapters and the like, then it might be a good idea to hold off for just a little bit longer to allow yourself that distance before jumping back in.


This is something where everyone is going to be different. For me, I like to do a couple of read throughs, and with that distance I can pick up on plot holes, or threads that go nowhere, or parts of the story that just aren't needed any more. It means that I can then start to make my outline so that I have some idea of what I'm trying to accomplish with my revision pass. If you're someone who already started with a detailed outline then this might not be the way you approach things.

One thing you do need to keep in mind the whole way through is what you're hoping to accomplish with this pass. If you're trying to tighten up the prose, or deal with plot holes or descriptions, then you need to be ready to keep that at the forefront of everything else. How you approach revision will help you decide when you need to start on it, and when the ideal time is for you to have left that first draft, if you're able to do so.

I've talked about how I have a lot of leeway when it comes to revision and deadlines and the like. It's one of the perks of being an indie author, but at the same time, you should, probably, have some kind of idea how long you want to spend doing this. Now if you've never revised something before, then it's harder to predict, and even when you have done it before, every project will need a different level of things, so of course that also makes it hard to predict.

For me I like to set aside months before I even consider sending the book to betas or the like. My CPs will read it on about the second or third draft, and I'll take their feedback to make things better. If you have some idea of when, you might be able to work out how and when to start. If at all possible, give yourself a lot of leeway because things can and do change, and the last thing you want to be doing is rushing things.

So there we go, those are my thoughts on knowing when to revise. It might seem like something obvious, but it isn't always. I very much recommend getting some space between the first and second draft, but that doesn't mean there needs to be that same amount of space between second and third. It really does depend on your revision process and how it works for you, as well as the level of work the project in question needs.

Good luck with your revision! Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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