Writing & Revision: My 4 Steps


Everyone has a different way for doing anything and everything.  When discussing the writing process, some prefer typing over handwriting and vice versa.  Which is better for someone starting their writing career?  You must figure that out on your own.  Some people type faster than they write.  Others cannot type at all.  Try both and decide which one works best for you.  You will eventually have to type your work, but the first step should feel easy and natural, so you can get your thoughts out quickly before you lose them.  These steps are my process and may not work for you.  This is just a guide to help you find your own process.

1.  Write the Rough Draft

I prefer writing by hand.  I always have.  I can ink out the words on paper faster than I will ever type.  My hand can keep up with my brain and before I know it, I have written four pages.  I am not against typing the first draft, but I save that for short blog articles or lists.  Long form fiction; I am writing that by hand and will not type until the short story or chapter is finished.

2.  Type the Rough Draft

When I finally go back and read what I wrote, I am shocked at how many grammatical mistakes I made.  Things are misspelled or missing letters (seriously); it looks like a jumbled mess.  Fortunately, I know what I thought when I wrote those terrible sentences, so I correct them as I type.  Sometimes I forget to write down a thought I had.  I do not know how I missed it but I add this in as I type.  If I had typed the rough draft first, I would spend more time correcting mistakes as I go than getting the words out.  This is why I handwrite first.  I get everything saved on my computer, fixing the minor grammar and spelling errors.  The 2nd draft is finished.

3.  The First Revision

I consider this the first real revision.  I print the document; 12 pt. font, Times New Roman, double spaced.  The focus of this revision is to flush out the ideas and expand the details.  Depending on what the story needs, I will add dialogue and build better character descriptions.  I make sure there are no plot holes unless I want to have plot holes.  I remove the passive voice in every sentence.  I remove the words “is” and “was” and rewrite the sentences so everything still makes sense.  Some sentences I delete all together.  I make the notations in ink and then I make the corrections on the digital file.  The 3rd draft is finished.

4.  The Show & Tell Revision

I always heard people criticize my writing by saying, “Show me, don’t tell me.”  The annoying aspect of this criticism; they never offered any examples.  Plainly put, I did not know what they were talking about.  I had to learn this on my own.  This is the most difficult part of revision for me and can result in multiple drafts during this step.  You revise and have a fourth draft, but you have more to show so you write a fifth draft; and so on until you have the best story ever written.  An easy out with this is using dialogue to describe things in the story.  Otherwise, you have to find ways to describe the anger in a character without saying, “This character felt angry.”  The writing process never ends and will always take longer than you prefer.

As I mentioned before, everyone’s process is different.  Experiment.  Try new things and learn what works best for you.  There is no right or wrong way.  Some things to remember; if you want to get published in a magazine or have a book traditionally published, you need to eliminate all the passive voice and always show not tell.  The more writing you do, the better you become.  Keep writing.  Keep revising.  Keep submitting to online journals.  The difference between successful people and everyone else is successful people have failed more times than everyone else has tried.  Never give up; never surrender.

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