The Rewrite: Keeping Track of Revisions


Revisions – Love ’em, Hate ’em, Gotta Have ’em

This is it. This is the final revision. (Cue Europe’s “Final Countdown” synth intro.) This is the final polish, the one I will use when querying for an agent this summer. (It’s finally here!)

Here’s the rub: I’ve done something hair-brained and a little crazy: I’ve done a major overhaul of plot with this version.

Things weren’t adding up. There were too many conflicts for one book. I needed to tweak, to readjust, to do all of those things. The manuscript needed to be tidied up.

Things are going remarkably well *knocks on everything made of some sort of wood or wood-like substance*. I’m motivated and eager to finish this book and begin a similar process with the next book (already drafted). Having the next book drafted and ready has helped me see where the story is headed–but it also has me going back and making sure that the right things are included and the wrong things are omitted. It’s been tempting for me to draft all five books (which I’ve nearly done) and then tweak them all at once.

I know I’m eccentric (the nice word for “crazy”), but writing all of the books in this series and then revising them at once? That’s just insane.

How do I keep track of my revisions?

The answer is simple:

  1. Keep track of your plot chart, complete with conflicts and turning-points
  2. Briefly summarize your chapters as you go (and I mean BRIEFLY–one or two word chunks to explain what happens)
  3. I know my characters, their setting, and their environmental limitations (a LOT of pre-planning made this happen). Even still, just to remember key details, I keep a cheat sheet handy.

And, really, that’s it.

I have short-term and long-term goals for the story. Short-term goals are on Post-Its on my laptop and in chapter/scene notes in my processor (Scrivener). Long-term goals are provided on my plot chart, which is an outline:

  • Protagonist Goal(s)
  • Hook
  • 1st Turning Point – Conflict
    • Internal conflict
    • External conflict
  • 2nd Turning Point – Conflict
    • Stakes
    • Other stakes (if needed)
  • Rising Action
    • Conflict
    • Stakes
    • Obstacles
  • Climax
    • Revelation
    • Resolution
  • Falling action
    • Cliffhanger (needed, as book one leads into book two, and so forth)

Are you more visual than this? Draw it out. Map it. Do what you gotta do! I live for an outline (it’s the ENFJ in me), and this really keeps me on track with BIG PICTURE stuff.

Something else that helps: BE BRUTAL.

If a scene doesn’t jive, chop it. Remove it. Exorcise it. GET IT OUT. (Save it somewhere in case the content is good, but if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.) (<- I AM SO [not] SORRY I COULDN’T RESIST.) Follow your map of the big picture.

Need help with your map?

Never fear, Lady Nerders. Here’s a handy PDF printable made by yours truly to use as needed.


Here’s the song that I ruthlessly put into your head. You’ve been singing it this whole time. Now relish in the majesty. You’re welcome.

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