Lots of people plan to write a story. Several of them start but few actually finish. So go ahead, pat yourself on the back. It’s a big accomplishment.
Still, part of you knows you’re not really done, or you wouldn’t be here, right? There’s a lot that goes into writing a great story. I don’t know anyone who can keep it all straight or pay attention to everything at once. That’s why we all go back into our completed stories to revise, fix, or polish what we’ve written. Revision is actually fun – or at least, rewarding. When you’re done, your story will be as strong and clear and effective as you imagined when you first sat down to write it.
How to Revise
After you write the last scene, put your story in a drawer. Don’t even peek at it for at least two days. Because the next time you look at it, you need to see what’s really there. You need to read it like someone who has no idea what it’s about or how much thought and work went into it. That’s how your readers will see it and you want to see how the story would affect them. You already know it affects you.
Now you’re ready to revise. Just like writing, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Still, there are ways to get through it quicker and more effectively.
First, deal with the big stuff before you deal with the little stuff. It’s a waste of time to pour over a thesaurus for the perfect verb if you realize later that the whole scene serves no purpose and needs to go.
Second, focus on thing at a time. Read through the entire story looking for and thinking about just that one thing. Even if you notice a huge mistake, don’t fix it unless it has something to do with the one thing you’re working on. It’s way too easy to get side-tracked and stop noticing what you’re supposed to be fixing.
Okay, are you ready? Go to Check Your Plot.
If you get to a point where you’re pretty sure something’s not working but you’re not sure why or how to fix it, consider posting your story on the Share Your Writing page. Another writer may have a great suggestion.