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Self-Editing and Revising Your Fiction 
 
by S. D. Farrell May 31, 2005

Revising: A Vital Creative Process

After you have edited your prose, you will most likely want to take the process one step further and revise your entire work, looking for sections that need improvement, clarification, or further support in the form of more scenes. This is a somewhat more tricky process, and relies on developing strong writer's intuition as to what works and what doesn't. However, there are a few things you can do to help you develop that intuition and hone your story.

Keep copious notes. If you are writing science fiction, a tale of political intrigue, or anything that requires you to keep track of many details, consider keeping notes. Good ideas sometimes come out of nowhere and vanish just as unexpectedly if not recorded. Also, as you begin to write each scene, jot down something quick about what you expect that scene to accomplish, either in plot or character development – and then put the notes aside. When you finish the entire work, your notes can be a useful tool for deciding which sections need work and what you can do about them. Writing down your first impression, and then letting them sit in the back of your mind, has a way of causing them to emerge more fully-formed when you need them later.

Find a trusted reader. By "trusted," I don't mean someone who will spare your feeling or give softball commentary on your writing. Most writers come to crave constructive feedback that helps them improve their craft, and if you find a reader who has a strong understanding of what you are trying to say and how you can better express it, you've stumbled onto a gold mine. It may take sitting in on a few writing workshops to find such a reader, but I don't, personally, recommend workshops on the long-term. Too much input, too soon, can dilute your story; on the other hand, helpful commentary from one person is more likely to leave you with an even clearer sense of your own ideas.

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