I've written a few novels, all but one unpublished. The reason the ones not published aren't is mostly because I think they need more revising, and I'm really stumped on how to do that. Short stories are pretty easy--there's not a lot of words to work with; they usually take place over a short period of time, so no timeline needed; they have fewer characters to keep straight, and so on.


Oh, but a novel. Could be sixteen times longer than a short story (average 5,000 words short story, 80,000 words novel). Or more. And about thirty-two times the trouble to fix.


I've been reading a bit about how different authors go about this process. And I've learned some things, but still need help with this.


So far, I've found an overall tweaking of each scene or chapter is needed in these areas:



Chapter beginnings - off to a fast start. Chapter endings - cliff hangers.
Is the chapter and each setting set up properly?
*Are settings described enough?
*Don't use the same ones over and over again.
Each character is unique.
*Name what is unique about him/her when introduced.
*Be sure to sprinkle little characteristics, quirks throughout.
Subplots cleaned up?
What is the conflict, action, dialogue in the chapter? Does it all work well together?
What are the characters thinking in the scene--can the
reader tell?
Is the scene well written?


For me, it's too much to think about. But I am beginning to think it's necessary. I like systems. I need a system. I know I hurry through this too quickly. But I do think doing it chapter by chapter, having a checklist, is the way to go.

And I have tried using a checklist and going over each scene, but I get totally bogged down. I've read that some writers go through the whole manuscript for each point, concentrating on character one time, setting the next, dialogue, action, and so on, up to seventeen times. The mind boggles.


I'd love to read comments about how others do revisions, especially those who are quite systematic.

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