Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Revision versus Editing (Part 1)

                                                           by Kelly Bridgewater

               As a college instructor and high school teacher of Composition, I have had numerous students who didn’t understand the difference between Revision and Editing. As a fiction writer, it seems more daunting of a task to work with. I mean, who really wants to go through their 300+ page manuscript numerous times looking for a million misperfections. But I want to offer a piece of advice. A little bit of instruction that might hinder the overwhelming task before any writer.

writing for enjoyment            First, make sure that you write tight. You know, you use good word choices. Not vague words. Two of my most hated words are GET and GOT.  I can’t stand those words when I’m editing a final manuscript.
Double-check you have included all of these story parts to entice the reader:
-Hook your readers.
- Set the scene.
- Show—don’t tell.
- Use POV (point of view) correctly.
- Create memorable characters.
- Construct proper dialogue.
- Build your plot.
- Creatively use backstory.

          Revision is looking at the complete picture of your story. Don’t worry about your grammatical errors right away. That is for later.

Suggestion #1: After finishing the complete manuscript, take a break. (If you’re time allows.) I don’t mean thirty minutes. I mean, a couple of weeks. Go reward yourself! Eat some ice cream. Buy a new book to read and spend hours devouring the contents. Forget about your book.

Suggestion #2: After allowing some space between you and your wonderfully crafted words on the page, return to it with a stack of post-its and a fun colored pen. Read the words from front to back. Stick post-it notes with suggestions of what you think need to be included on certain pages. Usually I place a piece of paper in the front of general things I need to add as a whole, such as more tension between the protagonist and her love interest. The post-it remind me of little changes, such as grammatical errors I noticed without marking the text or hair or eye color that is different from earlier.

Suggestion #3: Now is the time to actually dive in and start the overall change in the text. Work on one chapter per day, if your time allows. If you do more than that, then you could become overwhelmed and believe there is no way to finish revising. Here are some questions to ask yourself: Do you evoke the five senses in the chapter? Do you answer the five W’s questions? Do you hook the reader from the start? Why should the reader care about your story? What makes it different from what has already been published? Are the characters believable? Is the tension believable?

Of course, there are tons of different suggestions because every writer’s path of revision is different, but here are some suggestions that help me minimize the headache involved in making my story better.

Please share any suggestions you have that work. I would love to learn different strategies to apply to my writing. 


Kelly Bridgewater holds a B.S. in English and a M.A. in Writing from Indiana State University on the completion of a creative thesis titled Fleeting Impressions, which consisted of six original short stories. She has been published in the Indiana State University Literary Journal, Allusions, with her stories titled “Moving On” and “Life Changing Second.” In fall 2011, she presented her essay, Northanger Abbey: Structurally a Gothic Novel, at the Midwestern American Society of 18th Century Studies Conference. Kelly’s writing explores the ideas of good prevailing over evil in suspense. Kelly and her husband reside with their three boys and two dogs.

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