Monday 6 February 2023

How I Outline For Revisions - The After Process


I am very much someone who barely plans when it comes to drafting. It's something that people think is strange in that I plan pretty much every other aspect of my life, but drafting not so much. That said, I am someone who outlines when it comes to revisions, which I've talked about before, but thought I would go into more detail of how I do this today.

Right now I am into the revisions of Cramping Chronicles: The Third Ache, and have only really in the last month, been able to put my outline together and work out what needs to be changed, what needs to be worked out, what plot holes need to be closed, and what plot beats and points need to be expanded upon. I started doing the revisions back in November, and will be doing them for a while yet. The book was one that I felt, and remembered, needed a lot of work, and while I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of things I actually got right, and threaded through the story, there are some beats that don't work and will either need to be expanded upon in book four, or cut altogether.

So how do I go about doing it? I'm going to break it down into steps for you, and expand on them as we go through each one. If this is something that you don't do, but want to learn more about, then stick around!


Now personally, when I finish drafting, I file the book away and don't think about it much, or at all, until it comes to the time for revision. This can be months, or it can be years, depending on the book itself. If it's part of a series, then obviously I'll be thinking back while writing the next book so that I can be sure of keeping things somewhat consistent through the whole series. To be honest though, a lot of the bigger points stick in my head anyway no matter how much I might try to forget about them.

So my first step has to be dusting it off, and sitting down, and reading through it from start to finish. I allow myself to fix formatting issues, and any typos, but I do not let myself do any re-writes. If I think something needs to be cut, I'll mark it in my notes, and in the document, but I won't actually do any cutting until I've read through it completely and have pages of notes to write up and organise.

This usually happens when I read through it again, make more notes and highlight specific parts that need to stay, and ones that need to be changed or rewritten or even cut completely. From there I will get it all organised in a word doc or the like, and move things around. It allows me to see the story as a whole, and also pinpoint exactly where those changes need to occur. Like if I know that a scene coming up is pivotal to the overarching plot, but there's some problems with it, I'll mark that one for a bigger change than say, a scene that doesn't have as much of an impact.

There are, of course, always scenes that I feel like need to be removed, and changed around and the like, and it's usually at this stage that I'll make those decisions, like whether or not it is going to be cut, or changed, or moved. I do this because when I get into the next step, I want to be working with as much of the whole story as possible.


This is the part when all the hard work really begins. I don't mean that the rest isn't hard, it very much is, but it's at this point that I'll start taking those highlighted parts, and my notes, and systematically going through from page one to make those changes. I'll deal with the bigger ones first because there's little point worrying about line edits when I need to rewrite whole swaths of text, but I'll go through, rewrite, make more notes, and make sure that it flows from one plot point to the next and so on.

This is the one that takes the most amount of time, and it's something where, occasionally, I've had to go back to step two and start again, redo the outline and remark everything because I've spotted a new plot problem or one of them has been too difficult to make it work right. Either way I stay on the final step until I'm absolutely happy with things.

When I get to betas and the like, I pretty much start again, going through, making an outline and making sure everything works. It's a long arduous process, but it's the way it should be.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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