Revision Tools

So… Other than a spell-check, my revisions are totally, completely, utterly done! My manuscript is all shiny and ready for prime time ๐Ÿ™‚ You may not hear much from me on Restless for awhile, as I like to keep this part of the process on the down-low, but I thought you might be interested in hearing about how Restless went from Crappy First Draft to Shiny Shiny Manuscript.

When facing a huge project I like to break things down into smaller steps. Otherwise I become Overwhelmed and Crazy. I might become Overwhelmed and Crazy anyway, but it tends not to last as long when I have a plan. Generally the master plan includes three major drafts: The first, messy draft. The second, clean-up draft, which is then sent to critique partners. And lastly, a revision acting on those critiques. With Restless I had two other drafts beside those.

But for every draft, the same tools are required: A jackhammer, a scalpel and a feather duster.

The Tools of Revision


The jackhammer is best used in the first few rounds of revision. It’s used for the big picture revisions: Adding or removing characters, changing back-story or character motivations, overhauling plot, changing tense or point of view. BIG stuff. Changes that have ramifications throughout the whole novel. Critique partners are EXCELLENT at pointing out parts of your novel that need a good jackhammering. In my opinion, if you’re not using a jackhammer in your revisions, you’re not digging deep enough. There are always ways you can make your story better, from the roots up.


Scalpel changes are the most difficult, in my opinion. You need focus while using a scalpel. Precision. Finesse. A steady hand. A scalpel is used to perfect theย  twists and turns of plot, the details that make your characters seem like real people. A scalpel is used to establish continuity and remove logic problems. It’s possible the reason I find scalpel revisions so difficult is that maintaining an internal logic in my stories is the most challenging part of writing a novel for me, but I’d argue it’s one of the most important. Without scalpel revisions, no one will ever be able to suspend disbelief and lose themselves in your story. They will be constantly distracted by all the wrong details. So, scalpel well, my friends.

Feather duster

This is the easy part, and it’s not particularly important until your last round/s of revision. A feather duster is used for things like spelling, grammar, pretty sentences, strong metaphors. The language stuff I love so much. I know a lot of people who get caught up in dusting their novels far too early. What’s the point of checking your grammar when you’re just about to rip your story apart with a jackhammer? No, you need to leave feather dusting until the end. But, oh, does it feel rewarding when you are finally able to add that final polish.

So, there you have it. The tools of revision. They’re all important and they all contribute to make yours a book worth reading.

In non-book news, last weekend we took Puppy to the beach for the first time, and oh did she have a ball! I may do a full post on our beach trips, but here’s a photo to whet your appetite:

At the beach! ๐Ÿ™‚
Revision Tools

One thought on “Revision Tools

  1. Great post! Jackhammer, scalpel, feather duster…terrific analogies. (I’m one of those writers always SO tempted to dust before the jackhammering. Must resist!)

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