Aspiring Writers: Self-Editing the BIG REVISION Draft

Feb 18, 2017

I’m frequently asked for writing advice, and have been promising aspiring writers I’d start posting about the craft…So here’s the first! As I pound out my rough draft of Keturah, the first in The Sugar Baron’s Daughters trilogy, I was thinking about what I go after in the second draft, and then the third.

Honestly, in draft #2, I’m fixing OBVIOUS mistakes and holes in the plot or characterization that anyone could see. But on Draft #3, I go a bit deeper…I call it THE BIG REVISION DRAFT. This is what I do before my editor ever sees it. She, of course, will find other things I can work on, but I want to make sure I’ve considered all of these things already, to, you know, make her life a little easier. And also cut the dreaded revision letter in half…That’s the hope, anyway!



1) Is the dialogue appropriate for the character? Are there nuances unique to each? Phrases or a cadence of speech only one utilizes? Can I enhance that?

2) Is the verbiage appropriate for the era? (Flag all that might be a problem and then go through and check Webster’s for the date any suspect word entered the language timeline.)

3) Are things happening in a timely fashion to build toward the climax? Do I need to pull back (if it’s going too fast)…or push things forward (if it’s feeling too slow)?

4) Is the romance progressing at a good pace? Is there a set-up for a crisis? Enough basis in their shared foundation to justify bringing them back together?

5) Is there tension on every page—either emotional, spiritual, physical or mental? And does every chapter end with a bit of a cliffhanger, making the reader want to know what comes next?