Everything We Know About…Editing! (article) - NaNoWriMo

So you’ve finished the first draft of your story (or at least a part of it) and now you’re ready to revise!

As I’ve said before, I encourage you to write your first draft freely. While you want to keep proper writing techniques in mind as you go, I find it’s best to let things come out naturally. Regardless of your approach however, you will no doubt have to make some revisions after the completion of your first draft.

Plot Review

For discovery writers, the revision process will be essentially like outlining in retrospect. Find what elements fit together and adjust the plot around as needed. Some writers like to establish an actual outline at this point. If you’re interested in doing so, check out the section on outlining for general tips to compare your draft against.

Those who outline more heavily will (hopefully) be spending less time in the plot review process. Revision will essentially be making sure your story maintains the outline you’ve set. That said, even if you outline in depth, your story will most likely have diverged somewhat from your original design. This is normal. Just make sure to tweak your outline as needed, ensuring your additions fit properly into the narrative and don’t leave any loose ends.


After reviewing the plot, you want to shift your focus on the individual elements of your story. Make sure to check back to all the tips in the previous sections about writing and breaking down scenes, dialogue, character expression etc… Re-read your first draft and check against the tips in each of those sections, revising as needed.

Personally, I like to focus on a single element for each read through. For example, for one pass I’ll check to make sure I don’t have too much exposition.. I’ll then make another pass, checking for character inconsistencies. You can make as many of these re-reads as you like, but I’ve found that the less I have to focus on for each re-read, the more mistakes I can pick up on.