After the Editorial Letter: a peek at revising under contract

Today is my birthday! (*does happy dance*) A year ago this time, I had just finished signing with my agent. My how things have changed! A huge milestone these past twelve months was selling my book, and after that, it was surviving my editorial revisions for Taken, which are finally nearing completion. So I thought we’d take a quick look at what happens after an author receives their first editorial letter and jumps into the revising process.

STEP ONE: Revision #1

This is typically the most robust revision round and it begins as soon as the author receives the editor’s revision letter. (Before I was a part of Pub Crawl, I actually guest posted about digesting the revision letter over on the Let The Words Flow. It is a crucial step, so much so that it could be considered Step 0.5). The letter will outline all sorts of required changes, most of which are wide and sweeping. Chapters will need to be completely rewritten or heavily revised. Plot holes will need filling, characters will need arcing, worlds will need building. This initial revision is a complicated process because as you pull one thread and rewrite it, a dozen more always seem to unravel. Timelines can vary by project, but an author usually has anywhere from 3 – 8 weeks to complete this first revision.

Tips for getting through this round:

  • Brainstorm with your editor. (I jotted a ton of notes right into my revision letter and sent them back to Editor Erica as a word doc. She then left me additional notes and thoughts in the comments and track changes). When changes are large, it’s always best to hash things out before you start hacking the MS to bits.
  • Deep breathes. Sometimes you’ll feel absolutely stuck/lost/hopeless but you will find the answer. Step away. Come back later. You’ll get there.
  • Just start. It’s hard when there’s so much to tackle, but pick something small and run with it. Once you start pulling plot threads, you’ll have to keep fixing them until all of a sudden, voila! Revision complete!

STEP TWO: Revision #2

Assuming you rocked revision #1, the next round focuses heavily on tightening and perfecting the story. The letter will likely focus on smaller issues: Pacing, particular scenes/chapters that aren’t 100% there, the completion of character arcs and motivations, etc. Since revisions here aren’t as massive, the deadline is usually a bit quicker, somewhere between 2 – 4 weeks. (In the case that the novel still needs massive revisions, Step 1 will be repeated as necessary before moving to Step 2. The same is true for this step. Smaller more focused revision rounds will occur until the MS is ready to move into line edits.)

Tips for getting through this round:

  • Be ruthless while tightening prose. Ask yourself which words really need to be there and if they are truly adding to the story.

STEP THREE: Line Edits

Rather than a revision letter, these will typically arrive as comments and tracked changes within the MS document. At this point, all the heavy-lifting revising is over and the focus is on individual lines. Your editor will help you polish clunky dialog or awkward phrases of prose, and point out instances that conflict with previous pages. You’ll also weed out any repetitive or unnecessary lines. Turn-around for this step is rather quick, usually around 1- 2 weeks.

Tips for getting through this round:

  • It’s easy to grow attached to certain pieces of our novels, to fall in love with particular lines. Know which battles to fight and be prepared to let go of a few precious snippets of prose for the sake of a cleaner, smoother novel.

STEP FOUR: Copy Edits

The nitty-gritty. Commas. Capitalization. The round that makes you question if you ever actually learned grammar when you were in elementary school. These will arrive in the MS document, again handled via tracked changes. It is a tedious process and you’re likely to spend many hours reading sentences aloud with emphasized pauses, debating between comma placement. Turn-around usually happens in a week or less.

Tips for getting through this round:

  • A grammatically correct sentence is not always the right answer, specifically when it comes to dialog. It’s OK to fight certain edits if you feel a character’s voice suffers or becomes inauthentic otherwise.
  • Don’t freak out after you hit “send.” You’ll still have another chance to review the novel when you get your page passes.

After this, the “revision” portion of the process is complete. Yes, future steps account for typos and the like, but the story itself has been finalized and future work will happen outside the .doc file! A final tip: after each of these four steps, always proof your novel before sending it off. Your editor could have missed something and while it is his/her job to help you perfect the novel, you are ultimately responsible for the final product!

So in celebration of being (almost) done with these four steps for Taken, and of course because it is my birthday, I’m offering up some goodies. ONE WINNER can choose one of the following:

A 27-page critique of a YA manuscript.
A $27 gift-card to
2 of the following 7 books of your choice (which were my favorite MG and YA books that I read during my many months of revising):

  • UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi
  • THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
  • ON THE JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta
  • LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins
  • GRACELING by Kristin Cashore
  • BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young

Can you guess how old I’m turning? 😉

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment telling us which you prefer: drafting or revising. Then fill out the handy giveaway form below! The crit and gift card items are open internationally, but the 2 books are limited to US only. We’ll announce a winner next week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


129 Responses to After the Editorial Letter: a peek at revising under contract

  1. Jenelle R. Feb 8 2012 at 4:17 am #

    Well, I’ve never written a book, but I’d have to pick drafting. Revising sounds like too much work- in drafting, you just let the ideas flow! 🙂

    Oh, happy birthday!!! Let me guess- some where in your early twenties? 😀

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 8:58 am #

      That is my favorite part of drafting, too — spilling ideas 🙂

      • anyknob Feb 9 2012 at 12:34 am #


  2. Sally L Feb 8 2012 at 4:34 am #

    Happy birthday!! You look insanely young in your picture, some I’m guessing that you’re now in your early to mid twenties 🙂

    I’ve never written a book, but as a high school student in my last year of school, I’ve had my fair share of essays and creative pieces, and hands down, I prefer the revising process. There’s something so satisfying about knowing that, edit by edit, you’re perfecting your work, and it’s such a delight to actually compare your first draft with your final version and see the improvement 🙂

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 8:59 am #

      Sally, I completely agree! Revising is a very rewarding process, difficult as it sometimes is 🙂

  3. Christina Kit. Feb 8 2012 at 5:19 am #

    What I love about revising is that you know enough about the story that you can go into revising with a better view of what you want or need.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:00 am #

      So true! Things like pacing and character arcs are much easier to tackle once you’ve laid the foundation.

  4. Julie Feb 8 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Happy b-day Erin!!! And thanks for this incredibly informative post! 🙂

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:01 am #

      Thank you, Julie!! And happy to share 🙂

  5. Sharon Johnston Feb 8 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Happy Birthday!

    If you had of asked me a year ago I would of said drafting because I love conceptualising and creating weird plots, but after rewriting a novel and seeing how much stronger the MS became at the other end I have a new found respect for revising.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:01 am #

      Revising is a tedious process, but I completely agree — it is so rewarding to see how much stronger a story can become!

  6. Sandi Jones Feb 8 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Happy Birthday!

    I love, love, love drafting. Revising isn’t too bad as long as I have great notes from my editor or cp’s. But when I’m working on my rough draft and trying to revise on my own, it’s the hardest thing in the world to me.


    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:03 am #

      Yes! Great CPs and editorial feedback can make revising much more manageable. Our gut reactions regarding what we should change/edit are often right, but I think hearing those same concerns from a third party makes diving into revisions less intimidating.

  7. Cheyenne Feb 8 2012 at 7:10 am #

    Great post! Definitely, definitely revising. I love it because I already know the characters and the world they’re in, and if new ideas spring up, I love finding ways to edit them in (and edit out things out). This is why I love video editing (and practiced it on my degree) because there’s something cathartic for me in moving things around, chopping down the bits I’ve clung on to for so long, and improving.

    Is it bad, as a writer, to say the actual drafting is a total slog through the mud? 😉

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:05 am #

      Is it bad, as a writer, to say the actual drafting is a total slog through the mud? 😉

      I don’t think so! We all enjoy certain parts of the process more than others. And I know what you mean; the initial draft can be downright painful sometimes. 😉

  8. Lucy D. Briand Feb 8 2012 at 7:29 am #

    I enjoy revising more then I do drafting.
    I love tweeking scenes instead of creating them.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Amazing how all those small tweaks can add up to produce a stronger (and better) story, huh? 🙂

  9. Meredith Feb 8 2012 at 7:47 am #

    I love these little peeks inside the industry! I definitely prefer revising. Like, hands down prefer. At that point I already know what the story is, and it’s so much easier for me to tease out its full potential that way. Drafting generally includes me flailing about for weeks or even months, starting down one false path after another, and generally complaining about how much I suck at everything. I’m much calmer during revision. 😉

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Meredith, your drafting process sounds just like mine. I love being surprised by my characters and just spilling ideas, but MAN, the flailing and self-doubt. I’m calmer in revisions too 🙂

  10. rathrift Feb 8 2012 at 8:29 am #

    I’ve “finished” my first draft of my WIP and am going through my revision/editing stage. And wouldn’t you know it! My lovely muse takes off. That leaves me with a cigar chomping self-editor who laughs at my work, points a finger at me, saying, “And you think you’re a writer!?”

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Oh, the endless battle with one’s inner self-editor! Good luck with your revisions!! 🙂

  11. Jamie Grey Feb 8 2012 at 8:49 am #

    I think it depends on where I am in the process. When I’m just starting a new book, I love drafting. Getting those words on paper is so much fun. When I’m almost done with the revision process, I love that part too – making everything shiny and tight. The middle of all that is kind of a slog, but you just have to keep going, because in the end it’s totally worth it!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:10 am #

      Jamie, I think you’ve pinpointed why I love both drafting and revising, but never the entire process. It’s those middles! They are so darn tough!

  12. Becca Feb 8 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Great post – and happy birthday! I always kind of wondered about this stage. 🙂

    I’m definitely a revising girl. First drafts for me are the toughest, and I struggle with them every time. Once I have them down, though, and I have a structure (albeit a wobbly one) to work within, then I love getting in there, ripping parts out, putting new parts in, fixing sentences, punching everything up.

    Sometimes I’d kill for some drafting love/mojo, though!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 8 2012 at 9:12 am #

      I love getting in there, ripping parts out, putting new parts in, fixing sentences, punching everything up.
      What a great description of the revising process! I feel the same way. And thank you for the bday wishes!!

  13. Nikki Loftin Feb 8 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Oh, Erin, no question at all: drafting is the best. Revising is like taking a nail file to my eyeballs. And it lasts forever. Happy birthday to you, you young whippersnapper! Now go have some fun and get off my lawn.

  14. Sooz Feb 8 2012 at 9:29 am #

    I way, way, WAY prefer revising. Like Meredith, drafting is 100% FLAIL. Then revising is all about finding the story I meant to tell all along and pulling it out of the muck.

    Great post! You’ve summed up my own experiences perfectly!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks, Sooz! Somehow I manage to flail for half the time I spend revising, and half the time I spend drafting. I don’t think I hve a favorite!

  15. Erica O'Rourke Feb 8 2012 at 9:47 am #

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope this year brings you even more wonderful news and happy times — you deserve them!

    I prefer revising. Always revising. The book in my head is never going to match the book on the page, but revising lets me bring it closer. Drafting just makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and eat my own hair. Thank you for the wonderful, wonderful tips — such a smart way to manage the process and make it even more enjoyable!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:17 am #

      Thank you so much for the well wishes, Erica!! ((hugs))

      I too love how revising can help you bring the book closer to the version in your head, which as you mentioned, is so difficult to do during a first draft.

  16. SuzeW Feb 8 2012 at 9:55 am #

    I’m casting my vote for drafting. I did NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, and I loved waking up, mentally plotting what I wanted to write that day, and then bashing it out with no thought to spelling, syntax or elegant prose. BUT…now I HAVE to think about elegant prose and that’s the tricky part. My prose is the equivalent of that person who bumps into, and trips over everything. Revising is a slow process for me, I can’t help but agonize over each sentence. *sigh*

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:18 am #

      Sentence agonizing is a horrible side effect of revising! It is indeed hard to know when you’re being thorough and when you’re going needlessly overboard. 🙂

  17. Lauren Feb 8 2012 at 9:55 am #

    I actually love the revision process. I adore drafting, but find it fascinating how small (or large) tweaks can make something I already loved even better. Great post – definitely bookmarking this one. Happy birthday & can’t wait to read TAKEN!!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:19 am #

      Revising is definitely a rewarding process. And thanks so much, Lauren; for the bday wishes and your interest in TAKEN! 🙂

  18. Emily Feb 8 2012 at 10:05 am #

    I vastly prefer revising. Even though I dread revising – I fight against doing it – once I start, I love it.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:19 am #

      Oh, this is exactly how I am. I dread the revisions and starting is soooo hard, but once I’m in there, pulling things apart and perfecting the story, I am so happy! 🙂

  19. Jodi Meadows Feb 8 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Love this post, Erin! Thanks for the great breakdown!

  20. Kirsten Squires Feb 8 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I definitely prefer revising. I feel like that’s when the story really comes alive. I love adding all the layers and little details.

    Happy birthday! Thanks for the helpful post and the contest 🙂

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:20 am #

      Thanks, Kirsten! (And I agree — adding those layers and details in revising is such a rewarding process!)

  21. Adriana Marachlian Feb 8 2012 at 11:05 am #

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! 😀 😀 February babies are the best 😉 What are you doing to celebrate? Cake? Yes?

    Um, this is actually a really hard question, because I’m in the middle of drafting right now and it’s like dragging a mule uphill… through mud. So, this is a biased answer lol I’m going to go with revising, mostly because I love re-reading what I wrote and finding what little things I can add here and there to make it better, which is not something I can afford to do while I’m drafting because I just need to *get it out* or else I get stuck :p

    … But drafting is pretty fun in its own way. INDECISION.

    Hope you have a GREAT Birthday!!!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:22 am #

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!! Cake was indeed consumed 🙂

      I know what you mean about needing to GET OUT the story while drafting. I’m the same way! I always want to fine-tune everything as soon as I type it, but in order to actually finish a first draft, you have to, well, WRITE it. (Funny how that works, huh?)

  22. Lori M Lee Feb 8 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I love revising! Pruning, shaping, choosing my words more carefully in order to get across the image/nuance I want is so much more fun 😀

    Happy birthday!!!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:23 am #

      Pruning is possibly the most amazing adjective to describe revising. It really is a process of snipping, shaving, reshaping, and polishing that story into the best it can be! Thanks for the bday wishes 🙂

  23. Bethany Hudson Feb 8 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Honestly, I like revising best. I know my characters and story so well by then, and I’m ready to make them the best I possibly can. I love the collaboration aspects and the whirlwind excitement of it all.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:23 am #

      It is so true that you better know your characters and story at the end of the first draft!

  24. Katelyn Larson Feb 8 2012 at 11:30 am #

    I’m still at the very beginning of my revising process, so it’s entirely possible my opinion will change quite soon, but right now I’d have to say that I love revising. Knowing exactly what I need to do and having the actual framework already laid out is amazing. It’s way less scary than having to draft the entire novel. That said, drafting is so much fun. 🙂

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:25 am #

      Knowing exactly what I need to do and having the actual framework already laid out is amazing. Yes! The groundwork has been laid, which makes the revising process, while still challenging, way less intimidating.

  25. Orchid Feb 8 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I think I would probably prefer drafting. I am kind of a perfectionist and revising might just drive me a little crazy trying to make everything perfect…or as perfect as it can be. =)

    While revising sounds a bit…scary. I liked how you layed out all the steps that go into revision for a book (for handy). =)

    Thank you for the excellent post on revision and for the awesome giveaway.

  26. Taryn Feb 8 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    DRAFTING. By far. Since I got my first agent offer, I’ve been living in dread of revisions. Because that manuscript? Was kind of a first draft. Shhh. Don’t tell.

  27. Ashley Maker Feb 8 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    This was a really great, informative post! What a tough choice: drafting or revising. I think I have to go with revising. I’m not the fastest writer, so sometimes it feels like my drafting drags on and on, but once I hit revision, I really hit my stride. I love it. Thanks for the insight and the fantastic giveaway opportunity!

  28. Jana Feb 8 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    I actually prefer revising! I found it much more easier and less stressful for me!

  29. Rocket Feb 8 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Revising, without a doubt. Although, sometimes revising actually means throwing away whole chapters and starting over… so maybe that would be considered drafting too? (-:

  30. Arianna Sterling Feb 8 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    I love, love, LOVE revising. I have to go through and RE-revise the first half of the novel I’m working with (I curse myself for not paying attention to which file I was overwriting!!!) but I’m not worried about it. I did it once, I can do it again, and I’m willing to bet it’ll be even better the second time!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:27 am #

      I’m willing to bet it’ll be even better the second time!
      ^That’s the amazing thing about revisions. They always seem to make the novel stronger! 🙂

  31. Sarah G. Feb 8 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Great post, Erin, and Happy Birthday! <3

    In drafting versus revising, it depends what I'm writing. I far prefer drafting short stories to revising them, but with longer stories drafting is so, so hard — I find trying to figure out plot threads AND who my characters are AND what the world is like very overwhelming and scary. At the same time, I love the discovery part of drafting. So I think what I prefer most is writing discovery bits that even as I write them, I know they probably won’t end up in the actual novel. I find that rewarding and less stressful.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:28 am #

      Thanks so much, Sarah!! The first draft of my novels are always a mess, because just as you mentioned, there are SO MANY pieces to work with. Usually ONE of those elements comes out right (the plot, typically), but everything else is wonky (my character arcs will have incorrect pacing, world-building will happen in info dumps, etc). I have to perfect all that in revisions 🙂

  32. Emy Shin Feb 8 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Yay, happy birthday, Erin! And thank you for sharing this. It’s really fascinating to read about the revising/editing process after the book deal. :]

    I’ve never revised a complete MS, but I do love revising short stories. It’s scary, but better than facing a blank page.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Thanks for the bday wishes, Emy!! I always fantasize about the blank page when I’m knee-deep in revisions. But then, when it’s finally time to draft again, that blank page gets mighty intimidating 😉

  33. Yvonne V. Feb 8 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Happy Birthday!
    I prefer revising to drafting. I find it much easier to work with what I already have down on the page.

  34. April Tucholke Feb 8 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Rock the 27, CP. And yes, revisions. They kill people. I’m pretty sure they’ve killed someone, at some point. That said, they are better than drafting, because revisions means the book is almost done. And that’s something.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Revisions kill, writers beware. HA! (Thanks for the bday wishes, CP! You know this mess of a first draft is headed your way sometime soon. Prepare yourself 😉 )

  35. Sara M Feb 8 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Well, all I’ve written are term papers and other boring things. Drafting those is never fun, but I think drafting fiction would definitely be more fun than rivisions (although I’m sure my nerdy brain would somehow end up enjoying the revisions more… maybe I’ll find out in the future).

  36. Ellen Feb 8 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Once upon a time I would’ve said drafting, but now I have to go with revising. It’s more fun for me to watch my story really take shape into something I can be proud of than it is to write–sometimes knowingly–a ton of crap. 🙂

  37. Elsie Chapman Feb 8 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    27? Pfft? Left that behind way too many years ago! Have the best birthday, Erin! And I love this post, you broke it all down so it no longer sounds so overwhelming. I personally love first drafts. Edits kill me, but they are a necessary evil!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:31 am #

      Necessary evils. Well put, Elsie! 😉 (And thanks for the bday wishes)

  38. Crystal Schubert Feb 8 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    First: Happy birthday!! 🙂 Welcome to 27.

    Second: I prefer drafting, personally. I love the newness of a story and how the plot and characters keep throwing out surprises. Revising can be fun at times–mainly line editing times. When I have to do massive revisions I get so intimidated and end up procrastinating for way too long.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks, Crystal! I love how new and shiny everything is while drafting as well. My characters always surprise me too, and that is hands down, my favorite part of writing a novel 🙂

  39. Krispy Feb 8 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    It’s hard to say. My initial response is drafting, but I also hate the suckiness that comes with drafting. So that makes me want to say revising because then I’m making things all pretty and SENSE-MAKING. Ah, can’t choose!

    All that aside, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 😀

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:33 am #

      I can’t chose either. I love the surprises that come with drafting (plot twists, character reactions, etc), but I also love the perfecting that comes with revising. (Thanks for the bday wishes!)

  40. Kara Feb 8 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I definitely prefer revising to drafting – you can go back over everything you’ve written, which is a pretty gratifying feeling itself, and decide which parts are the strongest. Also, you get that awesome sense of completion when you’re finished revising!
    Happy birthday, by the way! 🙂

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:34 am #

      Also, you get that awesome sense of completion when you’re finished revising!
      ^ YES! The end is finally in sight. And the novel growing better and stronger over the course of the revisions doesn’t hurt either 😉 (And thank you for the birthday wishes!)

  41. Heather Feb 8 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    I have to admit that I have never truly revised a novel. That is the goal for this year. I am finally getting used to throwing up a first draft now that I’ve done it a few times. Your post is very helpful in breaking down the process, starting with a big sweeping view and then moving down to the small details. I really hope I love revision. Happy Birthday!!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:34 am #

      Good luck with the revisions, Heather! You can do it!!

  42. Chemist Ken Feb 8 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    I’m still on my first book, but so far, drafting wins. Hands down. I think I can piece together a good story, but trying to revise those first drafts into words that don’t sound like something my middle grade daughter would write is sooooo hard for me.

    BTW, glad to meet another Harry Potter enthusiast.

  43. Vivien Feb 8 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    Revising. Something about errors and mistakes just jump out to me. So that’s easier. Also, rewriting seems to be where I excel!

  44. Amy Sonnichsen Feb 8 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Thank you! What a wonderful, informative post. It’s so helpful to see what that “next step” looks like.

  45. Jasmine Stairs Feb 8 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Well, Drafting is more FUN, but in revising I see things get Excellent. So I’m gonna say Revising. 😀

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:36 am #

      So true. Drafting = fun. Revisions = a better, stronger book. Well put 🙂

  46. Zara Alexis Feb 8 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    I’m a writer, but I’m also an editor, so I do rather enjoy revising work. I like being able to hone in on my projects and “clean it up.” After stepping away a bit, I can easily see where things don’t work and it’s great to come to a piece from a fresh perspective!

    Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez
    On Twitter: @ZaraAlexis

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Great point — stepping away is a crucial step! Seeing a project with fresh eyes before you dive in to edit always makes the revision process smoother!

  47. Chen Chang Feb 8 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    I think drafting because I get to write everything down and not worry about the suckiness of my writing yet!

  48. Heather Feb 8 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    I’d have to pick revising. I tend to get less stuck because I know how I want the end result to be. Thanks for the editing tips. I’ll probably actually try to use them before I even get to that point. Oh, and happy birthday.

  49. Melodie Feb 8 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Definitely revising. I’m revising right now prior to going on sub and am at step 2 in your process. The tricky part is revising only enough to sell, bc both of us know the editor will have additional comments. it’s kind of like selling a house – we don’t want to change too much to lose appeal, yet must be unique enough to stand out. Tricky!
    And congrats on your sale!! Yay you!!

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:39 am #

      Revising before sub is definitely a tricky process. You want to perfect the book as much as possible, but as you mentioned, if the book sells, the editor is going to have tons of feedback too, and you don’t want all your hours to go to waste. Similarly, if the book doesn’t sell (hopefully that’s not the case!) you again don’t want to have spend hours and HOURS on a book that became a dead end. Best of luck to you and the book. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a speedy sale 😉

  50. Ilana Feb 8 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    I love both drafting and revising. I write in spirals, cycling back and back, fleshing out areas that need to be fleshed out, cutting irrelevancies, so by the time I reach the end of the draft I’m pretty much done. So I guess I do a combination of drafting and revising? At the same time? I don’t know. I just know that I love both.

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:40 am #

      I cycle while drafting too! Each time I sit down to write, I go back 2-3 chapters and read/edit. When I get to a blank page again, I pick back up with drafting. It usually results in a fairly clean first draft, although I can always find things that need reworking.

  51. Meredith Anderson Feb 8 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    I do believe I haven’t done much revising, but I have a feeling I might like it more. I enjoy drafting. It’s most of what I’ve been doing, but when I have revised, even a little, I’ve found it extremely satisfying to see that rough draft turning into something a little more polished. Something I’d be willing to let someone read. That excites me. I like seeing my writing go from rough to smooth– from something I’m willing to let only myself see, to what I want to share with the world. We’ll see if this holds true when I attempt to revise an entire novel. 😉


    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:41 am #

      That rough to smooth transition is SO rewarding!! Good luck when you enter the revise-the-entire-novel phase 😉

  52. M. Dee Feb 8 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    I am a huge outliner (bullet points, guides and all) and I much prefer drafting to revising. With revising, I find it difficult to find a balance between not revising enough and revising too much and losing things (like character’s voice as mentioned above)

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:42 am #

      I find it difficult to find a balance between not revising enough and revising too much
      ^This is my problem too! Such a balancing act!

  53. Jessica Love Feb 9 2012 at 12:06 am #

    When I’m drafting, I love revising. When I’m revising, I love drafting. :-\

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:43 am #

      Ditto, Jess. Ditto. That’s always the way, isn’t it? 😉

  54. Laura Ann Dunks Feb 9 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Happy birthday! I have to admit I like both equally. I like the freedom and the flying and the adrenaline of the first draft and the meticulous crafting of the editing. Am I weird?

    • Erin Bowman Feb 9 2012 at 9:43 am #

      Not at all! They both have some wonderful qualities. I love and hate both sides of the process equally 🙂

  55. Sarah S Feb 9 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Happy birthday! Thanks for the post — it’s really helpful to see the revision process broken up in detail like that. I think I prefer revising to drafting because I can see all the pieces coming together into a finished product that I can be proud of.

  56. Ghenet Myrthil Feb 9 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Thanks for sharing all of these tips! These are really helpful. I think I prefer revising, even though it takes forever, because I can take my time making everything better instead of rushing to get a quick first draft down.

    Hope you had fun celebrating your birthday yesterday!

  57. Jesse Owen Feb 9 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Fab post – really interesting to see what happens during the revisions process 🙂

    Oh! And a belated Happy Birthday! 😀

  58. Alz Feb 9 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    I tend to prefer drafting when I’m drafting and revising when I’m revising, because each always seems better than the other while I’m doing it. I suppose ultimately revising is better because I actually have something written–but on the other hand, there is a certain creative satisfaction to drafting…augh!

  59. Emily S. Feb 9 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    Oh boy. I really like drafting because it’s my brain spilling everything onto a page, but revising is probably my favorite because it means I’m making that brain junk better with each time I go through it.


  60. Lindsey Feb 9 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    REVISING. I choose revising x1000 because I am a perfectionist and I have a *very* hard time with crappy first drafts (and as we all know, 99% of first drafts are, by definition, crappy).

  61. Megan Shepherd Feb 9 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    Erin!! We are indeed on the same wave length, or else stage in our books. Great post and great subject material 🙂

  62. Jessica Capelle Feb 10 2012 at 12:48 am #

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for the great information in this post and the giveaway!

    I much prefer drafting. I like just letting the words flow out without worrying whether I’ve used too many of the same verbs or the dreaded adverb. Revising is so much more difficult! 🙂

  63. Brandi Ziegler Feb 10 2012 at 2:07 am #

    Happy Birthday, Erin! I’m not even going to guess you’re age – I’m so bad at that! Anyway, I def prefer revising. I fall in love over and over again even as I kill my darling. While drafting is like omg-when-is-this-going-to-be-done?! Well, not the entire time. I suppose I just enjoy revising more than drafting, even when I see red when I disagree with a suggested change lol. Thanks for sharing how this process works and I’m glad you’re almost done! 🙂

  64. Hayley G Feb 10 2012 at 3:02 am #

    My favourite part is revising, because it feels like it’s becoming a real book. There’s an actual direction that the story is taking 🙂

  65. Kaye M. Feb 10 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Happy belated birthday! I haven’t gotten to the revision step yet, but I am enjoying the drafting (mostly) so far. I’m getting to learn my characters and how they feel about their world, and it helps to think that, even if that sentence isn’t properly worded, there’s another step ahead that will fix it. 🙂

  66. Dani Nguyen Feb 10 2012 at 10:50 am #

    Happy birthday & thanks for the giveaway!

    I’m not an author, but do quite a bit of writing for my job. I definitely prefer revising. There’s something so methodical about it. For me, it also means the hardest part is over with.

  67. Katie @ Blook Girl Feb 10 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Jeez, that’s a tough question. I enjoy drafting, but revising means I’ve already drafted! Haha. I’d say that I enjoy drafting more. It’s unfettered imagination at its best!

  68. DB Graves Feb 10 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    I would sing Happy Birthday, but I’m sure you would like people to actually come BACK to your blog. Heh. As for the question at hand, a year ago I would have said the drafting portion is my fave. Now, not so much. I am in the (pre-submission) revision stage and I have to say it’s my favorite. Drafting is based on original ideas, the meat and potatoes as they come to you. When you go back with the malicious revision eye, this is where the really good ideas come in. This is where I start to take the risks with characters, plot, etc. This is the exciting stuff. Where I pummel my brain to make the story that much more unique, that much more…me. This is where the creative juices go into overdrive!

  69. Audrey Feb 10 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    THough I haven't written a book (or have seriously attempted), I might have to go with revision… I really do suck at planning and deciding where a story will go, but I think going back and switching things up to get them "right" would be a lot of fun 🙂

  70. Shirley Feb 12 2012 at 9:44 am #

    I’d like revising better because then you’d be able to see what works and what doesn’t and you could change stuff you like or don’t like around.

  71. elena Feb 12 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Revision because you already have a general idea of what you want to do after writing it!

  72. Rika Ashton Feb 12 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Happy Belated Birthday!!!

    Drafting, mostly because at that point my story feels invicible, like it can go anywhere, do anything and be awesomely epic!

  73. Calamity & Chaos Feb 12 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Definitely Revising. It just seems easier to me. Its the point were I just feel less flustered. Lol XD

  74. Sophia Chang Feb 13 2012 at 4:32 am #

    I have to choose? lol

    Revising, because I know it’s less of a piece of sh*t than it was while I was drafting.

    Happy birthday!!!!

  75. AliaMcK Feb 13 2012 at 7:46 am #

    I think drafting is my favourite because I love the suspense of not being sure how something is going to play out and watching it unfold. Revising is good because I get to polish, but the initial writing of a story has always been my favourite.

  76. Germaine Dulac Feb 13 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I’d definitely go with revising. For me, drafting is long and painful. But revising is fun!

    Happy Birthday!

  77. Lea Kaplan Feb 13 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Drafting, for sure. I’m in the middle of revising my current manuscript and it’s very frustrating. I want to relive the excitement of writing the first draft, not get muddled in the details of a rewrite. That being said, I do love spending more time with my characters, all of whom I’m incredibly attached to.
    Thanks for a great post, Erin!

  78. Debbie Herbert Feb 13 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Congrats on making it through!
    I would much rather revise than draft.

  79. Chelsea M Feb 13 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Drafting is more fun! I love watching characters come to life on the page and, more often than not, take the story in unique directions. That said, I can’t start to really love the WIP until I do the first edit. I tend to get the plot out mostly via dialogue, so all the context comes in during that first edit.

  80. Dana Edwards Feb 13 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Happy Birthday!

    This is an easy choice – I prefer drafting about a billion to one to revising! Drafting is so free, so spontaneous, so…fun! While revising (to me anyway) is so tedious, so time-consuming, so…painful!

    But, revising does mean you’re getting closer to your goal. 🙂

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