Whether the revisions you’re faced with are enormous and terrifying, or small and terrifying, the fact is as soon as you get the email you’re still terrified! Self-doubt comes flooding back and you feel like you can’t do anything, and there’s always a moment of “D’uh! Why didn’t I do that to start with!” As I’ve just finished the first round of edits for book 4, I thought I’d share some hints and tips I’ve picked up along the way.
1. Re-acquaint yourself with the manuscript
If you’ve been away from the manuscript for a while it is definitely worth re-acquainting yourself with it before you start meddling. Make sure you remember the structure and where the significant plot points are, and make sure you’re totally in tune with the characters. It’s important that you recall their voices, and the ins and outs of who they are. You should be one hundred percent in the zone of this book before you begin and not the one you’re plotting, or the one you were writing before the edits landed. Otherwise, your characters will lose their individuality and you’ll get massively confused when you start changing things.
2. Give yourself some thinking time
However extensive the edits, I would definitely recommend giving yourself some thinking time. Plan what you’re going to do, think about possible repercussions and the effect of the changes you make within the overall structure of the book. Make sure you consider the characters arcs and how any changes might affect those. Knowing how extensive a change is doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. If you’re editor thinks it’s the right thing to do, it probably is. But you need to understand the effect of your changes and prepare for them. It’ll make life easier in the long run and stop you creating more plot holes than you fix!
3. Decide if your editor’s suggestion really does work
I’m really lucky in that my editors have been amazing and I totally trust their advice. So if they think something should be changed in my manuscript, it probably should. Also my editors are always clear that what they’re saying is a suggestion and not the only option. Do take the time to think about the suggestions your editor has made and what feels right. If something doesn’t feel like it fits with your plan for your book, make sure you talk about it with your editor before you make lots of changes.
4. Start a new document!
For the love of God, before you start, save the document with a new name! I keep every round of edits in a different folder and save with a new version number. Sometimes, if edits are really extensive and require a lot of re-writing and structural changes, I’ll save each file with the date and keep a list of what changes have been made each day. I do end up with a lot of files but at least I can go back to the version I need if I have to undo something!
5. Back up your files!
This should be a given but it really is important that you back up your files. I back up to a shared drive so it’s on another computer and I back up to memory sticks. Some people use the cloud, and there are lots of different options but whatever you choose, make sure you back it up. It would be absolutely devastating if all the hard work and stress was for nothing and you had to start again!
I hope some of this has been helpful to you as you tackle your own revisions. If you have any top tips for dealing with revisions please share them in the comments below, or if you want to ask me a question please get in touch!