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Revising, also called macroediting, is the third step of the writing process. It is the act of resolving major issues concerning the plot, theme, setting, or characters in the draft - this includes rewriting, if necessary. It is not to be confused with editing, which deals with smaller grammatical problems. Most WriMos revise during the months of January and February.

What to revise

Revision includes changing, modifying, or improving the following:

  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Theme
  • Setting
  • Pacing

It also includes:

  • Rewriting/redrafting
  • Extra research
  • Working on issues the author noted in his draft
  • Taking out/putting in/changing/reorganizing scenes
  • Working on the "big picture"

When to revise

Most authors suggest that revision should begin three to six weeks after the draft has been completed. The reasons for this are so that they can recover, celebrate, work on new ideas, and come back to the draft with "new eyes." Another reason, and this may be the foremost, is so they lose the emotional attachment they have to certain scenes, characters, or themes so that it would be easier on them if they need to take it out.

How to revise

This depends on the author. Every author has a different way of doing it. Some send their rough drafts straight to critique partners whereas others read their draft through, write an improved outline, and rewrite it completely before letting anyone see it.

Some cut out first and then add and expand from there. Others add and expand and then cut out some. Some write all their scenes on index cards and rearrange them. Others take the red pen and make their novel bleed.

Once again, it all depends on the author and the draft.

Helpful NaNoWriMo forums for this are the Novel Draft Aftercare, Critiques, Feedback, and Novel Swaps, and Plot Doctoring forums.

Tips for Revising

  • Print your book out. Big problems are easier to find on paper than on screen. (Don't ask me why)
  • Ask yourself lots of questions about the draft and don't be afraid to answer them honestly!
  • Spend at least an hour a day making changes, but don't revise for too long; you'll end up going insane.
  • Keep everything you cut out. Create a separate document where you can cut and paste everything you remove, just in case your revisions lead you to add back something you took out. This can also spark creativity for sequels, prequels, or new books.
  • Always use a red pen. Always. For one, they're the easiest to see on white paper, and for two, red is a very demanding color; regardless of what the pen is marking over or saying, you'll be sure to follow it's advice.