Stocking Stuffers for Writers: Revision

We know time is in short supply, so each day leading to Christmas, we’ll offer 5 simple, smart tips on an important topic to writers, helping with craft enhancement, revision and social networking!


Today’s Stocking Stuffer: Honing your mad REVISION skillz:

1–Draft first, then revise. Revising while drafting is kind of like trying to decorate a house while it’s still being built. How can you figure out what changes need to be made until you can see the whole thing? You also run the risk of never finishing your draft because you can’t stop tweaking it. Get the story down on paper before you even think about serious revisions. 

2–Make a list.  Once you’ve gotten feedback from your critiquers (please get feedback from critiquers), make a list of the changes you’ll be making. I like to divide mine into three sections: big picture items (things that need to be reworked through the whole story), specific items (changes in certain chapters/sections), and regular items (problems that I know I have and need to watch for in every book I write). Order your list and hop to it.

3–Read your Manuscript Aloud.  Reading aloud forces you to read more slowly, so your eyes see what’s actually on the paper instead of what you meant to put down. It’s also easier to hear those repetitious words that need changing, repeated sentence structures, phrases that need smoothing, or anything else that just doesn’t sound right.

4–Let it Sit. After a round of revisions, you’re probably so familiar with your story that you can’t see any more improvements to be made. Or you’re just plain sick of it. So put it away. Don’t look at it for three months, or six, and work on something else. When you come back to it, you’ll have gained the distance to see it clearly and the energy to do what needs to be done.

5–Resist the Urge to Finish.  Sometimes we get so excited to finish a story that we declare it done before it actually is. It may actually take three or eight or twelve revision/stew rounds before a book is ready for publication. I also believe that no book is ever really finished because no matter how much you revise, improvements can still made. So don’t aim for ‘done’. Aim for excellent or spectacular or some other word that will tell you when you’re good to go. Mine is fabulous. If I can’t say that a story is fabulous, it needs more revision.

**Want MORE on the topic of strengthening your writing? Visit Angela over at the insightful blog, Adventures in Children’s Publishing for a guest post on Honing the Writer’s Intuition.

Image: PublicDomainPictures @ Pixabay


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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15 Responses to Stocking Stuffers for Writers: Revision

  1. AubrieAnne says:

    I like these and have been doing a couple of the things, especially making the lists (I’ve taken 4 creative writing classes and I’m taking another this coming semester so I always get lots of feedback! and the only way to remember said feedback is to make a list!). I also, read my manuscripts aloud. It helps me find most of the errors and fix up a rough spot where the words just aren’t flowing right.

    AubrieAnne @

  2. Carol Riggs says:

    Super list on all points! Reading the ms aloud is especially revealing. Revision is the key to getting published these days, as polished as a writer can get his/her manuscript, since the market is tight! Thanks for the accurate reminders.

  3. Oh, this is the perfect stocking stuffer for me! 🙂

  4. Julie Musil says:

    I’m in revisions now, so this is a huge help. Thanks! And Merry Christmas.

  5. Great reminders!!! Happy Holidays, girls!

  6. I love this post. Great tips, thanks!

  7. So glad these stuffers are helpful!

  8. Perfect timing! I just typed THE END on my new first draft. Now it’s taking a holiday while I catch up on my reading. 🙂

    *goes off to check out ACIP blog*

  9. Heather says:

    These are REALLY good. I’m spreading the word because every writer should get these stocking stuffers! Thank you!

  10. Excellent post!! I especially love this – “Don’t aim for ‘done’. Aim for excellent or spectacular”

  11. Matthew Rush says:

    It never ceases. How do you two do it?

    Another post full of great advice. Thanks Becca!

  12. Mary Witzl says:

    These are great suggestions, and the longer I spend on the business of writing, the more I see their wisdom. Putting things away is great because afterwards, you really DO see what works and what doesn’t. Reading what you’ve written out loud is great too, because you catch all your infelicities and clunky phrasing. But exchanging critiques with other writers is the best thing of all.

  13. Mayaah says:

    Thank you for those pointers! I am glad to see I followed Step 1. I thoroughly agree with Step 5, a book can never really be “done”. I will have to work on letting it sit.

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