I know there are many schools of thought about revision, so I thought I'd share my experiences. Until starting my current WIP, revision was not a part of my vocabulary. Revise? Me? HAHAHA. My first drafts are perfect, of course! Revision is for suckers!
Well, I can admit now just how horribly wrong I was, and while I joke about it, my ideas about revision were a huge stumbling block in my writing process over the years. The idea of writing a novel, then having to revise it possibly several times before it was ready for publication seemed as likely as climbing Mt. Everest. Why spend so much time working on something that may never see the light of day? I wish I could travel back in time and smack my younger self, but of course that's not possible.
I know every author tackles revision differently, so I thought I'd discuss my process, and hope that the rest of you would like to share, either in a comment or on a post in your blog.
I am never one to outline, so as I write, my ideas change as I get to know my characters better. This means more work down the road when it comes to revision, so instead of just leaving it all for the end, I give myself a head start.
Step One: Every 10 or so chapters, I print out a hard copy and insert the pages in a binder. I find that I do my best revisions in hard copy form, so this is a must for me. Thankfully I just purchased a laser printer, and I suggest you do too, if you haven't already. I just purchased a Brother laser printer off Amazon for $80 new.
Step Two: Use the red pen of doom to mark up changes. If major changes need to be made, I fill up the margins.
Step Three: Make chapter notes based on my hard copy scribblings. I use the free version of Page Four for this purpose. I write my novel in Open Office and use Page Four just for edits, but that's just me. Page Four is great for edits because it's one mult-tabbed interface. So instead of clicking through multiple documents, I have everything in one place. I can click from the document for my WIP to my chapter notes, series bible, and character sketches. Makes my life so much easier!
But getting back to chapter notes, I use these notes as a guide, so I don't have to spend the time re-reading each chapter in detail before I edit it. Of course I'll still have to re-read it, but with the notes as my guide, it makes things a lot simpler. In Page Four you can even make a note for each chapter, but my notes aren't that in depth, so I store them all in one document.
Step Four: Complete novel. Let it rest for a bit. Begin revisions. Obviously, I'm not at this point yet, but I hope to be soon.
Step Five: Begin the search for critique partners. This gives me a wee bit of agita, because while I have gotten to the point where I accept that any critique partner is going to try to look out for my best interest (well, a good partner, at least) I know I'm going to dread their notes. I used to treat my writing as a special, special baby that no one could look at, so I know it will be hard for me at first, but ultimately it will be good for me, as I'm going to need a thick skin if I want to seek publication and face rejection.
Step Six: Further revision based on CP's notes.
Step Seven: Begin to work on querying and synopsis to submit for publication. Begin yoga practice to deal with the anxiety, and purchase Pepto to deal with stomach aches from stress.
Step Eight: Hopefully hear from agents with positive news. If not, begin some part of the process over again.
Obviously, I'm nowhere near the last parts of the revision process now, so I may be leaving some things out. I guess the best part of revising for me is knowing that I'm one step closer to achieving my dream. It's one thing to sit down and write, but it's another to turn that first draft into something publishable.
It can be hard for me when I see people achieving the goal I want so desperately, and don't get me wrong, of course I'm happy for any first time author finally getting their dues. I just remind myself that they've put in their time in the trenches and for them, they've won the war to reach publication, and are now beginning a new battle to get their book in the hand of readers.