Over the next several days, I’ll guide you through a revision regimen. Each day you’ll practice revision in a different way on a short manuscript of your own. Pick any manuscript you like, but shorter (under five pages) is probably better because you’ll be revising the whole thing each day. If you don’t have something that short, just pick a scene or an excerpt from one of your longer works. The point of this regimen is less about turning out a fully polished story and more about learning the strategies of revision that you can apply to all your work in the future. In other words, it’s less about this piece of writing, and more about the skills of the writer.
In this regimen, our movement will be from whole to parts, higher-order to lower-order. We’ll start with a wide shot and gradually tighten the focus until we’re zoomed in to the word level. This approach is fairly unnatural, I’ll admit. In the wild, an experienced writer might operate on several levels at once. But by breaking the process down into steps, this regimen should make deep revision manageable. Call it the Miyagi approach: Practice one move at a time so you can put it all together later.
As an added benefit, the regimen will allow you to take several passes through your manuscript. Your understanding of the work will deepen with each pass, so that by the time you’re done with the regimen, you’ll know its anatomy on the cellular level*.
Ready to get started? Go on to Day One.
*This is a huge benefit, by the way. If all I did was to force you to read your manuscript six times before you revised it, that regimen would be 92% as good as this one.
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