This post is the thirty-fifth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.
Over the past several posts, I have written about the many different drafts your novel will go through and some of the different editing techniques that you can use to reduce wordiness or strengthen your novel.
And when I have done a majority of my changes and am on what I am hoping is my final draft, I find I need something to keep me on track and remind me of all the areas that I need to focus on.
I am unsure where I got this revision outline. I believe it was condensed down and adjusted one from an online writing class I took years ago. But it serves its purpose and ensures I do a complete job of editing on my final draft.
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.
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.
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-climactic.
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.”
Texture – Sharpen descriptive passages to make characters, setting, and action more vivid – SHOW, DON’T TELL
a.) Look for too much/too little description
c.) Too many adjectives/adverbs
d.) Information dumps
e.) Background or setting info in the wrong place
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.
Editing – Tighten pace and continuity
a.) Look for repetition through implication
b.) Remove 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.
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.
Hopefully this outline helps you with your revision but feel free to adapt it to what does fit your style of editing and revising.