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Revision Checklist

I'm tired today, so the words aren't coming. So tonight won't be a total loss, I've jotted down some ideas about revision. You know, for when that time comes.

Revision Checklist

Can I tell whose POV I'm in in the first paragraph? If not the first paragraph, is it clear in the first line of the second paragraph?

What is the main emotion felt by the POV character? Do I show its opposite in the scene?

Where is this set? Have I described where we are or could this be anywhere? How can the setting help with the mood and emotion of the scene.

Is there a build-up? What does it promise?

Is there a pay-off? enough of a pay-off? Can there be more?

How can I push up the tension?

Who is in this scene? Is there someone in the scene who isn't present physically?

What is the relationship between these two characters? Is there a resentment between them? Does it show? How can it be more tense?

What is the character doing? Does it fit?

What is the character NOT saying? How can I show it? How can I show it better?

How does the character change in this scene?

What happens in this scene? What's the point?

Does it advance the story? How can it be made to if it doesn't?

Does it show us something about the characters? How can that be added?

How does it begin? Can it be improved?

How does it end? Does it convey a surprise? Does it make the reader want to read onto the next scene?

What do you do / think about when you revise?

You know, this could also apply to planning out a scene. I'll let you know how it works. :D


So far I'm not a heavy reviser. This is an interesting list, and one I'll squirrel away for future thought.

I'm also much more of an organic writer, so I don't really think of things as analytically as your list approaches them. I think I might fail miserably trying to use this approach. On the other hand, my subconscious seems to be smarter than I am about this, when I manage to get out of its way.

The first things I look for are:

1. Do I need more description here? I'm a skimmer when I read. I often just gloss over extended descriptions, looking for that next bit of plot or dialog. I need to step outside what I would read, and try to remember what other people look at in a book too.

2. My half a dozen or so most common grammar and style failings. Are my pronouns confusing? Punctuation on dialog.

3. Do I have continuity issues? E.g. did I imply that this side character knows about the secret department in Chapter 5, and then treat him as if he doesn't in Chapter 17?

4. Am I telling too much? Should I replace that couple of paragraphs with a new scene that shows what I just told the reader instead? (This has generated multiple chapters in some cases....)

5. Has the voice of any of the characters slipped or changed? Has the soldier with the high school education slid half way through the book into using the more educated vocabulary I use myself, or the college graduate psychologist character uses? If I'm writing someone who uses particular speech mannerisms suggesting a local dialect, have I kept them going consistently?

6. Have I got obvious anachronisms? Am I describing my 19th century character as being electrified by something? Is my Jewish character swearing using Jesus as part of his vocabulary?
Those are really good, but I think part of a different pass. My list seems to focus on scenes and yours is more global - such as continuity issues.

sigh - I can see where revision will take forever. :)
All that is pretty similar to what I ask myself. But here's some more:

1) Is the scene clear to every reader, or is it only clear to me because I wrote it?

2) Am I doing more telling than I am showing? I try not to be a narrator, but instead let the reader see something happening.

3) Is the word choice good? I have a bad habit of putting in phrases I use myself when I talk, or being using the same words too many times. I try to use a wider vocabulary if I can, without it sounding unnatural.

4) Is everything I said necessary, or is some of it just filling up space? What's the reason for each sentence and its structure in the paragraph?
These are good. I'm definitely adding word choice to the list. I'm hoping that I'm pretty good at showing rather than telling, but I look for that pretty automatically.


A great list!

This is a very helpful list! I'll be linking back to you from my blog.