Why You Need to Plan Out Your Revisions

Our revision is finally done, squiders! \o/ (That’s a little guy throwing his hands in the air.) I mean, until we get comments and stuff back and have to finalize things before release. But huzzah!

I don’t normally stuff my entire revision process into 5 weeks, but this process, and especially the last few days, has reminded me how important it is to know what you’re changing before you get into it.

Because revision is exhausting. Someone once told me that writing is right-brained, but revision is left-brained. You have to take what you have and make it a coherent, entertaining, relevant story. Your character motivations must make sense. All foreshadowing must be properly foreshadowed. All characters and important plot objects must be firmly entrenched in the story and not come out of left field later.

And, as I have been reminded but has also been true on previous revisions, by the time I get near the end of the book, my brain hurts. I can’t think anymore. And if I haven’t written down what, specifically, needs to change, I’m too tired to figure things out. Which is not good, because you want your ending to be amazing, so that your reader leaves feeling satisfied and/or motivated to move on to the next book, in the case of a series.

There’s also the issue with revision fatigue, which is where you know you’re changing things, but you can’t tell if you’re making things better or worse. Again, if you’ve planned your revision out, the odds are the story is getting better, even if it doesn’t feel like it, because you’re moving in the right direction.

How does one plan out a revision?

Well, it varies from person to person, but, in general, you look at your overall story. You look at your plot and character arcs. Are they complete? Are there steps missing that need to be added in? Do they logically make sense? Are you using your setting to its fullest potential?

And after you identify issues, you make a plan for changes. Do things need to be added? Do things need to be removed? And you plan where those changes go.

And then, after all that, you start revising. And because you know where you’re going and how you plan to get there, you can power right through fatigue and brain death.

Planning! You can get through a novel draft without it, but your revision is going to be a million times harder without it.

What do you think, Squiders? Have you revised without a plan? How did it go? If you do plan, how much work do you put in before you get going?

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