Revision Resources

I will tell you from the get go that this post is a little self-serving. See I’m working on a novel. It’s a work of contemporary romantic fiction set in a small town in New Hampshire. Earlier this year, I completed my sh*tty first draft (h/t to Anne Lamott and Bird by Bird).

I’ve been working on my second draft for a while now. In April, I mapped out a plan that would have me completing my 2nd revision mid-September.  Unfortunately, there was an extensive break during back to back to back family emergencies over the summer. My life has returned (mostly) to its regularly scheduled chaos and I’ve rolled up my sleeves, hunkered down and am truly focused on getting through this revision. I have a few resources and techniques I’ve been using, but since I’m a long time writer, first time novelist, I really want this to be as strong as it can be before I take the next step. I’m going to share my list in the hopes you’ll share your resource list.

Books on a library shelf

K.M. Weiland

K.M Weiland is an award winning author of historical and fantasy fiction. She is also has several well respected writing how-to books along with an entire website devoted to helping writers. I’ve worked through her How to Outline Your Story Workbook and am most of the way through the workbook for How to Structure Your Story. Plotters would probably have completed these books and THEN written the story, but I’m usually possessed by an idea that MUST COME OUT NOW then I go back and clean it up.  This is true of my non-fiction writing as well. I guess this makes me a pantser

Jami Gold

Jami Gold writes award winning paranormal romance and urban fantasy. On her web site, she provides some fabulous insight on using story planning worksheets a.k.a beat sheets to strengthen your story. Again these could be used prior to typing a single word, but they are very helpful for those writing and revising in genre fiction where word count is a factor. Her worksheets are based on the teachings of well-known writing gurus like Larry Brooks, Blake Snyder and Michael Hauge. She’s taken their principles and formatted them into a practical spreadsheet. She offers free, downloadable templates in Excel and a few are even available in Scrivener format.

Dwight Swain and Scene & Sequel

This past weekend was the monthly meeting of the New Hampshire Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America and our President, the fabulous Christyne Butler gave a great refresher (for me anyway) Scene & Sequel presentation. Scene & Sequel, is concept developed by Dwight Swain and refers to the idea of having something happen in your story (a scene). Then giving your hero/heroine or protagonist a chance to react to what happened, ponder the meaning and make a decision based on this new information or feelings (sequel). This need not be a lengthy occurrence. It might only be a paragraph, or it might be whole chapter, it depends on your story. Scene & Sequel is another tool for adjusting your structure to insure you pacing isn’t too fast or too slow.

Angela James

And of course, I have all of the slides and my notes from Angela James’ workshop Before You Hit Send. 

I’m kind of a perfectionist, and while I am aware, that it is possible to over edit one’s own work, I’m not there yet. Frankly, I ain’t even CLOSE. So, dear reader, here is where the post takes a turn towards the self serving. I need YOU. I need your help.

What techniques do you utilize when revising your fiction?

Do you have an tips you’d like to share?

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently writing her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

11 thoughts on “Revision Resources

  1. Your tips seem to cover all aspects of it. Many thanks, they’ll come in useful, and sorry I can’t reciprocate at this time – will definitely do so down the line… once I get my own act together 🙂

  2. Have just opened the fourth draft of my debut book. While you are revising, make a note of the dates, days and such info that comes in your story. These particulars are important. They may be wrongly referenced at a later part.

    Also, take a long break between your revisions. Eases and betters the process 🙂

    • True. Going for a walk especially in nature and among trees relaxes one and gives new ideas. Still I have not written a book. Also I do not think I will write fiction. Its really interesting and informative to read all what you, the writers write here. Thank you all for the tips. And I wish you the best of luck with your writing. Love and Light from me 🙂 ❤

  3. This was a great post Lee! I’m in the process of revising a novel as well, and just posted some editing tips as well.

    I’ve read Weiland’s site before and it was helpful, but the resource that really helped me with plotting was Libbie Hawker’s “Take Off Your Pants”. It’s a great resource for outlining and how that eventually ties into writing and revising a novel. She gets some criticism for sticking to a pretty rigid format, but her style meshed with mine so it worked for me.

    Keep up the great posts!

  4. Jessica Page Morrell has a book called ‘Between the Lines’ that, while not specific to revision, has always been a help to me for the more subtle aspects of craft that can get forgotten. I also like Janice Hardy’s editorial map as a very succinct list of questions to answer for each chapter. Personally, I draw bubbles. Each character and plot thread are written down within a bubble. Each plot thread gets a highlighter color. This allows me to quickly visualize and see if threads don’t tie back to the protagonist, if there are characters who don’t tie to the protagonist or to any threads. And thanks for the resources listed here.

  5. This may be a bit earlier in the writing process than planning or outlining, but I really enjoyed Mookie’s speaking on Writing Memorable Heroes and Villains. He’s a web comic author but his take on writing meaningful characters, not the stereotype really influenced my writing for the better. I saw him live speaking, but he does have a script of the basics he talks about here:

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  8. What a great resource! Definitely bookmarking this. Love K.M. Weiland–I listen to her podcast while I get ready in the morning. I’ve also found a lot of screenwriting books helpful, oddly, as they focus a lot on plots and beats. One of my favorite is The Writer’s Journey by Chris Vogler, which looks at the Hero’s Journey structure and character archetypes and discusses how these structure points and figures can be played with in all types of stories. I find using these things on editing can help me figure out how to punch up parts that were feeling weak–I added a whole second part to my climax after reading about one “beat” (escape from the innermost cave) and being very sure I didn’t need it but committing to see what I could brainstorm. What I came up with became my favorite scene of the book and changed the whole theme.

    Always love practical revision resources. Thank you for some new ones to explore!

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