Updates, Writing Process

Revision Diaries: Evaluating the Manuscript

I’ve heard of reading through a draft before to see it from the perspective of future readers before you edit. However, going further than that seemed over the top when the problems seemed obvious. Did I know how to actually tackle the problems I found while reading or even use the wonderful gems I found hidden every now and then? No, absolutely not.

That’s where multiple reads comes in. Did I want to read my draft multiple times? Not really. Did I? Yup. Did I hate it? Surprisingly not so far.

The first read was to get re-acquainted. It was a loving and open-minded read like you’d picked a book up in a used bookstore on a whim. I knew it wouldn’t be AMAZING but I did hold some expectations for my entertainment.

The second read was like a beta-reader, making notes in the margins about what I liked/didn’t like, where I was confused, and even threads of different themes. For those who don’t know, beta-readers are those lucky few who get to read a book during the process of drafting to give constructive critique in order for the writer to improve the book. (Note: I did not GET a beta-reader yet. I acted as my own beta-reader for this ahaha)

The third read gets into the weeds. That’s where the evaluation of the manuscript happens. I’m utilizing a spreadsheet provided to the Next Draft Intensive course goers by the wonderful Caroline Donahue. I get to go through the draft SCENE BY SCENE! Going through things at this level lets me determine if it works, what it needs, and what themes are currently running through things. Hopefully, when this read is done, I’ll have a comprehensive spreadsheet of my book and what it needs!

While I’m still working through this process, I’m feeling a lot of tentative optimism. Tentative because I can see how much work is already forming that will be necessary to create another draft that I am happy with. I’m notoriously for being scared of the amount of work involved to finish a personal creative project. I don’t want this to end up as another failed project. I’m going very slowly to make sure I end on high notes where I’m still optimistic and getting ideas on how to potentially redevelop the scenes/themes.

I have 30 chapters and about 286 pages to work through. There’s a lot of potential there, and I’m seeing some big changes in store for the next draft. The beauty of this method so far is that I’ve seen something new with each read, but I’m also not expecting immediate brilliance (at least that’s what I need to keep telling myself).

How is your writing going? Any revision techniques you like?

Happy Writing!

Rachel

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