08 Jan 31. Revise More and Write Better
Just writing enough pages for a book is a huge accomplishment. But when you type those last words, you’re not done yet.
You can stand out from the amateur authors by revising your way to a great book.
In this episode, I tell you how to lower your standard for your first draft and raise your standard for your finished product with a simple process for revision.
Mentioned in This Episode
Short Books: Big Results, the group coaching program for authors who want to write great books
1:1 Author Coaching for maximum support as you write your book
Hey there, and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m Your Author Coach, Candice L Davis.
This week, I want to dive into the revision process, why you’re probably not revising enough, and how you can change that.
Everything in this episode presupposes you care about the quality of your book. That might seem like a no-brainer, but the truth is not everyone is invested in writing a great book.
Lately, I’ve run into several authors who were okay with doing C+ work on their book just to get it out as quickly as possible.
I do think there’s a time and place for doing B-, not C+ work, but your book just isn’t that place. Your book is a representative you send out in the world.
If you want a below average representative, go for it. But I coach my clients to write with excellence. That doesn’t mean you have to try to compete with Nobel-prize winners or the authors whose work you love the most.
It just means you commit to write the best book you possibly can with the skills, knowledge, and resources you have at the moment.
A big part of upholding a standard of excellence for your book is revision.
One of my coaching clients is nearly finished with the first draft of his manuscript.
He’s a strong writer. His content is organized and clear, and yes, he’s going to have to do rewrites.
What you produce when you first write your manuscript is a first draft. Lower your
Revision is the process by which you make your content the best you can possibly make it on your own.
Before you send your manuscript to your beta readers, before you send it to your author coach, and definitely before you send it to your editor, you need to do at least 1 pass, and often multiple passes to revise your writing.
When you send anyone the first draft of your work, you limit their ability to give you helpful feedback. Sending your best possible work to your editor, for example, will produce better results for you in the end.
That’s not to say your work needs to be perfect before anyone reads it.
What I suggest you do is lower your standard for your first draft. Just get the words on the page in a coherent manner.
And raise your standard for revising your work.
Before I submit my writing to an editor or to a ghostwriting client, I revise it no less than four times. That’s where the magic happens. That’s when my writing goes from okay to good, from good to great, or from great to world class.
You definitely need to find the revision process that works for you, but here’s how I typically approach the process when I’m writing my own books. It’s a little different when I write with clients, but this is what I do for my own writing.
I start, of course, by writing a rough draft of the chapter. If time permits, I put it aside for a day or two and come back to it.
Then I review the chapter from beginning to end and make improvements in language, word choice, flow, sentence structure, and content.
How do you revise?
First just do the basics like run spell check and fix any spelling, grammar, or punctuation issues you find.
Then look for some of these things:
Is there variation in sentence structure so the writing doesn’t become monotonous to the reader?
Are you repeating the same words or phrases too often?
Is your description sufficient?
Does your description need to be pruned back a bit?
Will your opening sentences or images capture the reader?
Have you used dialogue where it makes sense to use it?
Is the dialogue revealing in some way?
Are you choosing strong descriptive nouns and verbs or relying too much on adjectives and adverbs?
Is your content organized in a way that will be easy for the reader to follow?
Does your content flow from one chapter to the next?
Is the chapter conveying what you want it to convey?
If you do nothing but address those issues, you’ll already be ahead of most authors. It may seem like a lot, but a lot of it you’ll begin to do on autopilot as you become more adept at revision. You’ll also find your writing skills improve in the process.
You will not catch all of those things I listed on the first pass, and that’s okay. You don’t have to.
In my case, I’ll likely revise it once or twice more before I move on to the next chapter.
After I’ve written all the chapters, the entire book from beginning to end, you guessed it, I revise it all again. I may do two or three or more passes, whatever it takes to make the book the best it can be.
For most of my coaching clients, I’ve found that one revision pass before moving on to the next chapter is sufficient. That way, they don’t lose their momentum or spend weeks revising the same chapter over and over.
When you think of your favorite books by your favorite authors, imagine her sitting at her desk, going through her fifth or sixth pass at revising. That’s likely what she or he did.
The best authors understand that writing well comes from rewriting. Even if you love your first draft, you can improve it with revisions.
There’s a saying among authors that writing is rewriting. The assumption is that you want to write well. You want to produce the best book you possibly can, and that, my friend, requires you to revise more.
I hope I’m leaving you inspired and committed to revise your book to a level of greatness because you absolutely can do that. If you need help, get it.
Find out about author coaching a tcandiceldavis.com/shortbooks. Or take a writing class. Or buy and study a book on writing. Y
ou can do this. You can write and revise your way to a phenomenal book.
Thanks for listening to “Noting but the Words,” I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.
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