What would be the best/most fluid/easiest way to revise your manuscript? I've read A LOT up on this and have 2 pages of stuff to revise and check for.

Fixing the following things: Main Plot Holes, POV checks, passive voice corrections, filter words for 3rd person, transition scenes and paragraphs, ensure good conflict/tension, minimize adverb usage, character distinction-ensuring each is unique-ensure unique dialog, foreshadowing, read and correct dialog aloud, incorporate beta reader feedback ( i know this one is later in the process), ensure there isn't too much description of setting and characters in early chapters, develop micro tension, pacing,

And on and on. I have tried to group many of these together but as it stand it looks like I'm going to have about 5 revisions, maybe more. It seems so overwhelming. Which topics would be best to group together to minimize revisions?

Note: Its a completed first draft where i just blasted through getting all my thoughts done. I have done extensive world building. There is no time contraint. I want it done right, not fast. I am a "architect" writer.

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    Mercedes Lackey famously rewrote her entire first trilogy seventeen times. Five is not a lot. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


Related question at: 2nd Draft- Fix spelling/grammar or plot first?

I would say you should definitely start with the macro-issues, the plot/characterization/structure issues that may lead to you re-writing entire chunks of the story. There's no point polishing writing that you're going to end up deleting.

After that? I've never gone through an entire manuscript looking for just one or two types of problems at a time - I tend to do one re-read and catch all the style/spelling/grammar issues at once. And some of the things on your list seem a bit arbitrary, like minimizing description in the first chapters. Is this an issue you've found yourself having trouble with in the past? Otherwise it seems like a bit of a strange goal, to me.

So, every writer is going to have to experiment and find their own revision process. That said, what works for me is:

  • Taking notes of necessary revisions as I write. If I decide in chapter 16 that I want to tweak the characterization of a certain character in a different direction, I won't go back and make the changes right then. I'll just write a note at the bottom of the MS saying something like: Character X made more sympathetic ch. 16. Tweak ch. 1 - 15. And then these notes are the first things I address when I finish the first draft.

  • After that, I write a synopsis of the story. Most publishers want these anyway, so it's not really a waste of time, and it gives me a chance to do a quick re-read and also to take note of how the story's structure has worked out. If I find issues at this stage (like I realize I spent 3 chapters on a relatively minor point, or realize I never tied up a subplot) I fix them.

  • Then I try to put the MS away for at least a few months. (Usually I write another book in the interim, then go back and do edits on the first). This gives me fresh eyes when I re-read.

  • At this point I re-read the manuscript fairly closely and slowly. (It can help to print out the MS for this stage, or else put it in a totally different font, layout, etc. to catch things your eyes might have glossed over in the first version. If you have time, it's a really good idea to read the story out loud, making sure you're reading what's actually there rather than what you THINK is there. This will help you catch rhythm issues, typos, and sentences that don't really make sense. When you stumble while reading? That's where you should suspect issues). This is the stage where I catch the little items you mentioned in your post - passive voice, adverbs, etc. I may also think of cool ways to improve the more macro items (Oooh, I could add a little foreshadowing here!).

  • then to betas, and hopefully another couple months of rest before I look at the beta comments, decide if I want to do anything about them, and then give a final read-through before sending it off.

Again, though, you'll have to figure out what method works for you. If you decide you want to do individual passes for each of the items mentioned, I would definitely recommend that you order them from macro down to micro, based, again, on the idea that there's no point polishing writing you may not keep.

Have fun with it!


The best way to revise a manuscript depends on at least three things: firstly, what state the text is in e.g. first draft, rough notes, near publication. Secondly, what type of writer you are e.g. first on paper and then type, only type, organise completely in head before commiting a word to paper. Thirdly, how long do you have e.g. it is due tomorrow, it is my life's work.

Five or more revisions is not unusual for a decent text. Just start doing it. Worrying about the best method is worrying, not doing.


Where you want to get to is the text to be consistent with itself. Then you want to have a story that works, at least in terms of gripping the reader and creating enough suspension of disbelieve.

All the rest is detail, for later rewrites.

You had your blast. Main thing done, getting your thoughts on paper end-to-end. Lotta work left. Have fun!

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