I'm back again with another blog chain. For this round, Sarah asked us this question:
How do you handle revisions? Do you revise as you're writing, or do you wait until you've gone through beta readers and crit partners to revise? How soon after you finish do you begin your revisions?
Amanda posted before me, and Christine follows me.
I'm one of the people who likes to revise as I go along. In fact, I usually start my writing session by reviewing what I last wrote and tweaking it. This helps me get back into the world of my story. Before I post a chapter to the OWW Writing Workshop or send it off to crit partners, I review the whole thing again. I'm pretty good about writing a "clean" draft, one that doesn't have many spelling or grammar mistakes, but I'd rather catch the mistakes myself first if I can. More importantly, I want to make sure my draft is as strong as I can make it. For instance, I know I have a tendency not to use much description in my initial drafts, so if I find the setting seems sparse to me, I'm not going to wait for someone to tell me to add description; I just weave it in. That way, my reviewers can focus on the problems I can't see myself.
If I'm revising on a chapter-by-chapter basis, I like to wait until I get feedback from several people (at least three or four) before revising. I'll print out the marked-up copies and go through them one by one, making changes to the manuscript. Sometimes, to speed things up, I'll lay out all the copies side-by-side so I can see all the suggestions at once. That way, I can see if several people pick up on the same problem.
When I finish a story, I believe in giving it a cooling-off period before looking at it again. After I finished the current version of Across Two Universes back in late April, I took about six weeks away from it. I filled the writing void in the meantime by writing a short story/first chapter about some different characters. I then go ahead and print out a copy so I can read the story on paper instead of onscreen; sometimes I can catch different things that way. I like to make notes on the paper manuscript, though sometimes I just go back to the electronic copy and work there. This is, of course, assuming I don't just toss the previous draft and start over. It may seem like a lot of work, but as the song "Simple Gifts" says, "To turn, turn will be our delight/Til by turning and turning we come round right."