Revising Individual Scenes

As many of you know, I am in the process of revising my first novel. This week, I finally made it to the point where I’m revising scenes. I’m just now getting to this because I wanted to make sure I had the general structure of my novel down before I started, this way, I don’t get too caught up in revising a scene I’ll probably cut in the end.

Since I really care about this novel, I decided to splurge a little and spent a whopping $4.23 on highlighters. I probably didn’t need 10, but it’s a novel so there are a lot of pages and I wanted a lot of colors.

How to revise a scene (or at least what I did):

  1. Make a key: Since I decided to use highlighters, I made a color-coded key that tells me which one is which. I chose a color for each of the following:
    1. Characterization
    2. Sensory detail
    3. Dialogue
    4. Setting
    5. Conflict
    6. Emotion/Feeling
  2. Print it out—Double spaced: Saving paper is great, but this helps a lot.
    1. I catch a lot of stuff I would have missed on a computer and double spacing is needed for room to write comments. To save paper, I printed it double sided; however, with highlighters, this isn’t always the best option.
  3. Mark it up: This part of the process depends on you. I decided to take one page at a time, but you might want to take it an entire scene at a time. I might not stick with a page-by-page editing system, but to start, I decided to try it.
    1. Highlight the different elements of craft (what each highlighter is for)
      1. I highlight because it shows me how much of what is on that page or in that scene. Once it’s done, by glancing at the page, I can tell if it has too much setting that’s too clumped or if it’s spread out nicely, how much dialogue, conflict, and sensory detail there is, etc.
    2. Go back through and make edits and comments on that page
      1. These edits and comments are changes I want to make in the digital document.
    3. Questions: Ask the following:
      1. Who is the main character?
        1. What makes him or her compelling?
        2. What is their desire, and what’s stopping them from getting it?
      2. What’s the purpose of this scene?
        1. What significance does it have to the overall novel?
      3. How is the setting?
        1. Too much? Too little? Too clumped?
      4. Is the pacing okay for the scene?
        1. How well does it fit into the overall novel?
      5. Is the scene itself compelling? Why or why not?
      6. Are there enough sensory details?
      7. Does the main character’s emotional state change throughout the scene?
    4. Read through again: This is a good time to read through the piece again and mark what to fix based on the questions above.
    5. Edit the digital document

I still have a lot I will be studying throughout this process as I know I still have significant work to do when it comes to things like characterization, but for now, this is where I decided to start since I have a lot to do by the end of the summer. As of right now, I am on track to get a solid draft finished; however, I have full intentions of having more drafts to complete in the future.



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