Practical Tips, Part 3: Revising That Beloved Older Manuscript. Writing Time, Part 86.

So, after Revisions Strategy, Parts 1 and 2 , there’s a clear shape to the book and we’re reacquainted with our character’s driving forces. As well, we have 4 outlines, the most recent on top.

Having set aside a few golden seconds to picture our ideal writing life and career, we take on the next chunks, steps 5-8.


Copy the novel’s original source file, ½ hour.

Format the new file so that each scene begins on a fresh page and insert page numbers. (Note, you’re kind of sweep-reading here, but still no details, just mental notes, like this is the chapter where Charles rides his bicycle into Hayley’s classroom) Print the novel out, remembering to number pages, and staple each scene separately.


Identify Act 1, 5-15 minutes.

Your outline makes the scope of Act 1 easy to find. Take all the scenes from Act 1 and place them into a folder.


Copy the outline in large print, 5 minutes.

Cut the outline up, so that it’s ready to staple to the scenes for each section.


Staple each outline section to a scene or scenes, ½ hour

For example, staple the label Opening Image and Harbinger of Change, to your first scene. If scenes want to move, great. Set aside scenes that don’t fit, for later or a sequel. Note: If there’s a great scene that doesn’t seem to move the plot forward, don’t tank it. Save it for a moment of beauty, just before you raise the stakes again, when the characters reflect on how things are different than before.

And, you’ve got your Act 1 together.

Now that pages and scenes from Act 1 are in order and labeled with their structural position, revisions of even a fairly formless first 30 000 words are much simpler, and you feel less like you’re rushing around a falling-down marquee tent, holding up the walls and trying to see from one end to the other. Repeat for Act 2 Part 1, Act 2 Part 2, and Act 3. (And, if you want to keep your sanity while working with a much-revised older manuscript, consider printing out a calendar to keep timelines straight.)

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers Mel

If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

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