Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Tricks of the revision trade #amrevising #amediting #amreading


To answer your first question, yes, I did get my manuscript turned in to my writing teacher before our Zoom call this week. Woo-hoo! Happy dance!

Well, except I didn’t make it all the way through the manuscript on that last revision round before I sent it. I was working on it last night and realized there are still a few inline notes I haven’t taken out yet. Mostly because I still need them. πŸ™‚

I’m one of those writers who likes to go through printed copy when revising, because for me it’s easier to make notes right on the page. I end up doing some brainstorming work as well, filling margins with my chicken scratch. The toughest thing is always catching silly flaws, like missing words or misspellings, because as the author, we’ve been through the words so many times. It’s like when you have kids and you see them every day; they change and you notice, but don’t. Then when a relative sees them for the first time in months, they are in awe at how much the kids have changed (which is another tip: leave your work alone for a couple weeks before diving in to the next round of revision).

I have a few go-to techniques I use when revising, but one I especially like. Here’s a peek into my revision technique (wow, that rhymes!):

Compile to Word and read on my iPad

My writing tool of choice is Scrivener, for many reasons. I know, I know, writers have a love/hate relationship with Scrivener: they either love it or hate it. I’m one of the love crowd. While I compose using Times New Roman, when I compile to read through it, I use a different font (actually, I change the font on the Word end). Seems that is enough to knock my brain out of writing mode so it can look at the book a little differently. Less “OMG, I’ve been staring at these words for how long? I know what they say”, and more “Hey, look, it’s different.” Yep, not much, but it’s the little things πŸ™‚

Print it out

Once I’ve read through the book on my iPad (and yes, I still use paper to take notes of things to fix) and made a round of corrections/revisions, I print it out (again using something other than TNR), then go through the hard copy. It’s easier for mark it up. There’s something about paper that inspires me to brainstorm while I’m revising (which just complicates the next round 😐 ).

Back to front

Another thing to try: read the story from the end forward. Start with the very last sentence, then read each sentence that comes before. It’s enough to trick your brain into seeing the prose differently. Of course, by the time you’re halfway through, your brain has caught on to your sneaky tricks.

Read it out loud (my favorite!)

I love this one! Why? Because I think it is easier to hear problems with rhythm and stuff like echoes and missing words (which your brain tends to fill in automatically) when I hear them read aloud. Reading the prose out loud yourself is helpful, but I think hearing someone else read it to you is better. And wouldn’t you know, Word has a read-aloud feature. Sure, you can’t have Sam Elliott or Mae West read it to you, and it does sound like a computer reading (not as mechanical as it used to be), but it beats recording yourself reading it aloud then playing it back. I mentioned this in a post a couple years back, when I had an older version of Word. I have a newer version now, and it’s easier to turn on. Here are instructions if you are interested.

And there you have it. These suggestions are for the read-through-and-figure-out-what-needs-work stage. Every writer is different, and what works for me might not work for you at all, but I think any time we can offer suggestions to each other to make our tasks more effective, if not easier, we might pick up something new that works for us.

It seems we blew right past spring here in MN. Average daily temps this time of year are supposed to be around 70 F. This weekend (at least the next 4 days) are supposed to be tropical heat (80s +) and humidity (dewpoint in 60s+). Ugh. It’s garden planting time, and tropical heat and humidity just make the dirt stick easier to my sweaty skin. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but c’mon, we get that weather in July.

I’ll try to take pics of each stage of my garden planting adventure, so stay tuned.

Have a great writing weekend!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, five chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

8 thoughts on “Tricks of the revision trade #amrevising #amediting #amreading

  1. Thanks for sharing the way you go about revising and editing, Julie. I always like learning about how other authors do it, because I always learn something new. I couldn’t agree more about the simple trick of reading out loud. I tell my students to do that, too, and it really helps, doesn’t it? Oh, and about ‘chicken scratches?’ You should see my scrawling. It’s completely illegible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is amazing how much reading out loud can help us with revision and editing. Heh, sometimes I wonder with my chicken scratches if I should have become a doctor–I’ve got the handwriting down πŸ™‚

      Have a wonderful weekend, Margot!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the great tips! Some I’ve heard before but shamefully haven’t tried. :/ The putting the doc in a new font does work amazingly well, I’ve noticed. So intriguing how our brains manage that!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the reading out loud thing too, Julie. It’s great for catching those words and sentences that don’t flow.
    Congrats on getting your ms off to your writing teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

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