Coming March 2020

The Copy Cat

Revisions! (Sung to the Tune of Tradition! if you please)

I hear some people love revising. I do, too, but I sort of feel I suck at it.

I am in the throes of revising my current WIP and I was thinking that my process may be, to put it politely, a little ‘garbled’.

My first draft of every book has a loose outline that I mostly pants my way through.

I am more and more convinced that this is a wretched way to go about things, but I seem incapable of doing anything different.

Finally,  I end up with a printed version and

a WHOLE lot of notes…




Then I make a timeline with rolled paper.

“Ah yes, I will make sure I don’t have Wednesday night occur before Wednesday morning THIS time!”





I reread Martha Alderson’s Plot Whisperer to remind myself of why I am screwing this up…




Then I finally break down and do what works every.single.time: detailed scene-by-scene, chapter-by-chapter analysis.


detailed scene analysis

26 pages of good old-fashioned fun

In a panic, I refer back to other books on revisions. I stop and drink tea. I may watch some bad TV. I cut, cut, cut. And I add in all the lovely details that I can’t seem to come up with the first couple of go-rounds.

The draft I’ll turn into my agent will be so different from the original draft that they would hardly recognize each other if they sat side by side on the train, though they might both marvel that they have characters with the same name.

The first draft of my most recent book was 400 pages. I don’t know how Stephen King or Donna Tartt tame their  beasts. I cannot imagine revising a 700 page novel! But then, I’m not Donna or Stephen.

If you have advice, I’d love it!




6 thoughts on “Revisions! (Sung to the Tune of Tradition! if you please)”

Wendy McLeod MacKnight

Thanks Barb! Oh course, I remind myself that is THIS book’s plan!

Martha Alderson

Thank you, Wendy, both for mentioning my book and for letting me know about your post! As difficult as the 1st draft can be to get down on paper, revising can be brutal — especially for a “pantser”. All that logical linear analyzing is pretty counter-intuitive when you’ve got such a creative mind like yours! Taming 400 pages! Sounds like you have a system that works for you. I smile when I think about how much fun the next draft will be once you’ve done all the cutting and determining — back in the flow and fun. Let me know when it’s finished and out so I can celebrate with you. Fondly, Martha

Wendy McLeod MacKnight

Thanks Martha! I will definitely let you know! I feel like I have the tiger by the tail, at least!

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Author of Children's Literature