How to Personalize Your Revision Checklist
This is a guest post by Laura Hamby. If you want to write for Daily Writing Tips check the guidelines here.
Everyone has their methods. I’ve read revision checklists all over the Internet, but still that didn’t stop me from coming up with my very own checklist.
Why? Why not? Who knows better than I how I write? And while I will confess to incorporating items from the checklists of other authors, especially those who write in the genre I do (because I’m a big fan of learning from others), I also know the areas I need to pay attention to on the second/third, et cetera, go-round on my manuscript.
The idea is not to revise your voice right out of your work. It is possible to do that if you’re not careful. You also don’t want to revise yourself so you wind up sounding like the person whose checklist you’ve borrowed for your own use. So, what did I consider when putting my personalized checklist together?
I’m glad you asked.
1. Things my critique partner pings me on regularly. In the beginning, I had a crit partner who would whack my knuckles with her cyber ruler about head hopping. Stay in ONE point of view? It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I caught on and now when I head hop, I KNOW what I’m doing. These things are subject to change as you grow as a writer.
2. Things I personally think I can and should do better. Several years ago, I gave myself a mission to use better, stronger verbs whenever and wherever I could. I took baby steps in the beginning, I’d write, then go back and check for passive, lackluster verbs. After a while, I moved on to refusing to use a wimpy verb in the rough draft, even if it meant I stared at the screen until I came up with something better. I like to think now that I’ve about got this licked—the verbs with verve come more easily than the verveless verbs now. As with number one, the items on this portion of your checklist will change, which is exactly what you want, as it shows that you’re growing as a writer.
3. Feedback I’ve received from editors. Hey, I figure if I’m lucky enough to get a rejection complete with what worked and what didn’t work for the editor, that’s as positive a rejection as you can get. And boy, how stupid would I be to discount what the editor has to say?
4. Those pesky generic things that should be on every revision checklist. You know, fun things like spelling, grammar, punctuation, looking for words that are words but are the wrong words. Example: “The hen is mightier than the sword.” These are what I like to call ‘Fun Typos’ because they often are worth at least a weak giggle, if not a full belly laugh when you find them.
5. Compositional/conventional aspects. Plot, flow, pacing, all threads tied off in a pretty bow, and so forth.
6. Have I stayed true to my voice? We all have a unique voice, but sometimes, it’s possible for it become lost when we try to be too clever or when we fight our way through a scene as if it were a paper bag we had to escape from using nothing but a dull toothpick. This is the part that is truly personal, above and beyond the conventions, like using periods to indicate the end of a statement, that we must observe. What questions can you ask yourself on your checklist that will resonate with how you write and what you write in regard to remaining true to your voice?
Feel free to add or subtract from this list, and hey, if you come up with something to consider for creating your own personal revision checklist, let me know. I’m a big believer in being teachable and learning as much as I can about the craft of writing.
Laura Hamby writes romantic comedy, has been e-published and enjoys her quest for self-directed continuation learning in writing .
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