OMG, HOW THE HELL DO I REVISE?!

Firstly, revising is not editing.

Secondly, revising means you must forgo your ego. Untie it, let it slip away like a stray balloon.

Thirdly, revising doesn’t mean making minor, syntactic changes.

Now, I can go on and on about what revising is for hours. But instead I’m going to share with you steps to help you revise. This will mean being truly critical of your work.

How to revise:

1. Print your work. Having paper makes it easier to see where your changes are being made and how your work functions on a printed page.

2. Have a pen – or pencil if you’re really that particular. It doesn’t matter what color.

3. Read your first sentence. Are you bored? Keep reading. Find the place that is the most interesting to you. That might be where your work really needs to begin.

4. Now read the ending. Do you resolve what you meant to resolve in the beginning?

5. Decide what your goal is. Is this a poem? Is this a short piece of fiction? Is this an essay? Each of these forms of writing require different approaches. Knowing the direction you need to go can help you organize your work accordingly.

6. Now read your whole piece without making any marks. Does it make sense?

7. Go back and read. This time actually make marks. Don’t be afraid to cross out whole paragraphs if they don’t work. Number the lines or paragraphs in the order they make the most sense. You can even cut up sections and rearrange them manually.

8. Take out unnecessary words and phrases that fluff up your language but don’t contribute to your work. These are the words that can make a sentence more complicated than it needs to be. We need to understand you to know how smart you are.

9. Make sure every word you are not familiar with means what it is supposed to in the context you use it.

10. Rewrite your work without looking at it. What is similar? What isn’t? What were you missing before?

Tips:

1. Being a part of a workshop forces you to examine the elements of good writing. You have to decide why something does or does not work. It requires work.

2. A fresh pair of eyes is a godsend. Anyone willing to read your work is your best friend.

3. Relax. You can’t get around revising. So take a drink and start tearing your work apart. The best writers are the ones most critical of their own work.

4. Don’t be overly critical or you will lose your momentum for the project.

5. Breathe!

Published by

Alexandra Stanislaw

Alexandra Stanislaw is the Editor-In-Chief and founder of Devise Literary. She is also an Assistant Editor for Hotel Amerika. Her work appears in Crab Fat Magazine ("The Good Friend" and "Tampa Raised You Up"), Ragazine, and Chicago Review of Books.

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