Dismantling the First Draft

Revision Stress!The first draft of my April 2014 NaNo novel has sat in a box for two and a half months. “Parasite” took me the better part of 2014 to finish, and I intend to make substantial progress with revisions this year. For me, that means completing a second and third draft by December 31st. At 8 AM on Monday, I’ll be digging out the manuscript and sitting down at my desk to tackle the story.

But actually sitting down to start the revision process is daunting. I’ve never edited a novel, first draft or otherwise. My stories-that-should-be-novels were abandoned before they reached this point. Only a handful of short stories made it through a revision or two, though none that I can officially declare “done.”

So I’m resolving to figure out the best way to revise. I’ve tried “revising” stories by completely rewriting them from page one, but that doesn’t work for me. It bogs me down rather than allowing me to improve on the original story. I’ve yet to finish a revision by working that way.

One tactic worked when I edited papers during college. I wrote directly on the first draft, correcting and rewriting any section that needed work. Or I scribbled notes to myself for when I added the changes to the file on my computer.

Revising that way appeals to me. I get to work directly with the first draft, and I can see my progress. Flipping through pages and writing on them gives me a whole lot better perspective on the story than simply working with a document on the computer.

I’m excited to get started. Even after spending some time after “Parasite,” I’m still excited about the characters and their stories. Here’s to hoping that I’m still excited Monday after my first day of revision.

How do you revise your stories? Do you edit on your computer, on paper, or a combination of both?

5 thoughts on “Dismantling the First Draft

  1. theparasiteguy says:

    What I do when revising tends to depend on what stage I’m at. The 2nd draft of my novel, for instance, was done entirely on the computer; said draft was pretty much a complete re-write due to how awful the first draft was. For the third draft, which I’ll be starting pretty soon, I imagine I’ll writing notes on printed-out pages.

    Good luck with the revision process! What genre of book is this, if you don’t mind me asking?


    • sestone519 says:

      I may have to forgo editing on paper if the passage or chapter ends up needing more work than I remember it needing. Congratulations on finishing your second draft and moving onto the the third draft. That’s a pretty awesome accomplishment. Good luck with this next draft. 🙂

      This novel is a YA novel that has elements of science fiction and mystery/thriller at the moment. That may change as I dive-in and start revising.

      What kind of novel are you writing?


      • theparasiteguy says:

        Thanks! I’ve never actually gotten this far on a writing project before, so this’ll all be new to me. And I’m working on a YA novel too, funnily enough, though in my case it’s purely science fiction. Distant planets, future tech and alien parasites – that kind of stuff 😉


  2. genpell says:

    I edit my articles directly on the first draft on the computer. I find it encouraging to do it thar way. I start at the begining and keep changing things until I get to the end. Then I start over. Always reading aloud.


    • sestone519 says:

      That’s how I edit when I work on my freelance projects. Those articles are usually less than 1,000 words, so I’m not all that overwhelmed. It’s a bit of a different story for longer pieces like this novel. I’m not sure I technically “read aloud” when I’m revising. It’s more of a mumbling with a whole lot of gesticulation. 🙂

      What kinds of articles do you write?


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