Re-Reading: The Basic Revision Strategy

I’m always amazed at how much the revision process depends on re-reading what you wrote.

It’s an obvious statement, of course. Yet, when I ask people about their revision process, re-reading is seldom mentioned. It’s one of those assumed things.

Suggestions for Re-reading to Re-envision

Reading aloud

  • Re-read an entire section, not just half a page. One editor cautioned against re-reading just half a page, because you don’t get a sense of how the revision flows with the rest of the story. It’s easy to repeat a word or phrase, to change tone, or to get slightly off-voice (like a singer gets off-key). Take it from the top of the novel or the top of the chapter; for picture books under 500 words, read the whole thing again.
  • Single space the mss and print it out. This often helps me to see and hear the mss differently. Play with different fonts and print it out. Do you have a character who is feminine and delicate? Print her chapter in a script font; or, to contrast, print it in a harsh, upright font.
  • Read out loud. OK. I mutter out loud. My husband is self-employed and we own an office building, so I have an office there myself. If I read out loud, it would bother others. So, I mutter out loud. Or, I put on earphones and use a software program that reads it out loud to me. (Actually, this is a good reminder: I need to use the earphones/read to me option more!) Or, I go home and read it out loud. Or, go to a park. Muttering isn’t as good as reading aloud, because you don’t get the real flow of the novel or picture book.

Someone once asked me how many times I had read through a novel. Who knows? More times than I can count, I’ve read every word. It’s the basis of all good revisions.

Fiction Notes by Email

When a new post appears on Fiction Notes, we'll send it to you by email.
We love to make it easy for you!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Comments are closed.