BluePrints for Revisions

Before we write that first draft, we’re all about ideas. We outline; we plan. We feel inspired by the moment.

During the first draft, we learn about our characters and their surprising ways and quirks. They deviate from our careful plot outlines in inspiring (or sometimes disturbing) ways. Your characters’ unexpected moments lead to an unexpected story.

And then you finish that first draft with a sigh of relief. It’s brilliant. It’s so much better than that drivel that won the [insert choice of award here]. You are an inspiring writer.

And then a day or week or month later, you read your draft again. And you discover that you have to revise. You’ve encountered the Dreaded Revisions.

Just like writing with an outline is often easier, writing a revision with a plan is definitely the way to go. It’s useful to make a revised plot outline, to consider how you character does (or does not) grow. It helps to make notes where the pacing is weak and some scene or summary needs to be added or deleted. In short it helps to have a plan — or blueprint if you will.

For my students in my MLA class, I developed a convenient worksheet for them to fill out before doing their revisions. It’s not real in-depth, but it does make you think about various aspects before you dive back into your work. It can also help you decide whether you want to tackle each problem individually or by scene and which scenes need the most work (or need to be added or deleted).

Finally, this blueprint is a work in progress. I would love to get feedback on what you think would be great to have in a worksheet like this. Leave me a comment on what you think.