What is the most important aspect of revision?

NOTE: I dusted off some notes I took for a webinar, How to Revise Your NaNo Novel, from January 2016. Grant Faulkner hosted the segment on writing advice with guest speakers KM Weiland, James Scott Bell and Kami Garcia. The following was one of the questions asked.

What is the most important aspect of revision?

  • James Scott Bell:
    • It’s a mistake to start on page 1 and revise, First, get an overview by reading it like a reader. The stakes of the story should be about death, either the physical, psychological, or relational.
    • Print out hard copies; take notes; create a reading experience; ask where a busy reader or editor would put it down. If plot points are in place, then look over individual scenes; do the scenes have objectives? Conflicts?
    •  Scenes between friends–sitting around eating, etc.–must have conflict. If not, create inner monologue with conflicting emotions.
  • KM Weiland
    • Let the story cool off before reading it.
    • Do a read through. Thinks about cutting words out. Fix problems right away as opposed to making a note. Take care of slow scenes; is this boring? Am I bored writing it? Is there conflict on the scene?
  • Kami Garcia
    • Ask “do I have plot points?” Tackle revision in layers; use a beat sheet.

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