Using a revision outline to guide editing your novel

Last week, I posted about content editing your novel. In the post, I mentioned that I use a revision outline, so I wanted to share that with you today.

I am now unsure where I got this outline. I think I condensed it down and adjusted one from an online writing class I took years ago. But when I am done with my second draft, this is usually the outline I pull out to ensure I do a complete job of editing.

Even though the notes say to do only one of these at a time, I typically do several at once working on each chapter separately.

Revision Outline

 Do only ONE step at a time. If you find another area that needs work – mark it and then continue with the current fine-tuning project. Work in block sections (defined by chapters). Complete each “block” before going on.

1.)    Structure – develop a clear, compelling plot.

a.)    Look for scenes that are passive/dialogue with no tension.

b.)    Scenes that don’t build or are anti-climatic.

NOTES: Each scene has a beginning, middle and end – there must be a climax/tension spot for each scene – make sure dialogue scenes have tension and are not just “passing time”

2.)    Texture – Sharpen descriptive passages to make characters, setting, and action more vivid – SHOW, DON’T TELL

a.)    Look for too much/too little description

b.)    Clichés

c.)    Too many adjectives/adverbs

d.)   Information dumps

e.)    Background or setting info in the wrong place

3.)    Dialogue – Elicit character personality through conversation

a.)    Look at taglines (placement, too many, too few, too much extra information)

b.)    No information dump

c.)    Bland or melodramatic lines

NOTES: Read dialogue aloud to make sure it sounds natural/realistic

4.)    Editing – Tighten pace and continuity

a.)    Look for repetition through implication

b.)    Slow passages

NOTES: Cut, cut, cut! Don’t repeat what the reader already knows or what is implied elsewhere. Be ruthless! Tighten up the copy without fear of shortening the novel.

5.)    Blending – search and destroy any weakness.

a.)    Look for soft spots – unclear character motivations, actions that seem contrived.

b.)    Fix by expanding or adding a scene so the novel flows

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4 thoughts on “Using a revision outline to guide editing your novel

  1. Great info as always. Though extensive, obvious repetition should be avoided, I wonder how many readers like me aren’t bothered by the occasional, well-worded second look. That situation alone would make a great post.

    I’d love to syndicate this list on The Masquerade Crew. If interested, see the following link.

    http://masqueradecrew.blogspot.com/2013/11/would-you-like-us-to-syndicate-post-of.html

  2. […] these corrections are done, I can use my revision outline to tighten my writing, perfect word choices and descriptions and cut unnecessary words. And when I […]

  3. […] deleting or changing the words on my list, I began going over each chapter with my Revision Outline. This helps me review each section for structure and blending. I review dialogue and work on […]

  4. […] your first draft is done, you can begin the next step of editing and shaping your novel. (Here is a revision check list that might […]

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