Tom Sawyering Your Writer Friends into Helping Revise Your Book

Boy am I enjoying revising this book…it’s so much fun!

Take that passive verb!

K-pow! Adverb say whatly?

What am I doing, you ask? Well, I’m not so sure I should say. It’s just…I’m having such a great time…and I don’t want to make you jealous…

Is it working? Are you wanting to help me revise this dumpster fire of a novel?

I knew you liked me. I just knew it!

Okay, so I’m going to outline how I revise and would love for you to jump in, giving tips, tricks, tools, and general help for anyone stuck in revising hell, which is the first level for those keeping track.

 This is my process, and mine alone. It’s probably not ‘best practice’, but it works for me (sometimes):

After typing THE END (which oddly, I don’t ever type at the end, but bear with me), I start back at page one, copy and developmental editing as I go. For those who might not know, a copy edit is placing the right period, fixing a run-on, and/or adjusting a passive verb. Developmental is the bigger picture stuff, keeping eye and hair color consistent, and/or tying up hanging loose ends.

Once I run through it once, I do the same thing again, looking for deeper POV/Showing options. And that means, if I come across this: He was cold. I would likely go into a deeper POV, and change it to: The air chilled his flesh, raising goosebumps along the hair follicles.

And that’s usually it until the editorial letter hits my email.

Sometimes I might have an added step of critique from trusted sources, if available. This is up for much debate, but I prefer one or two readers I trust rather than wide critiques. Too much of a good thing for me. I try to please everyone and end up with a bigger mess.

So how do you revise?

What sort of software helps? A time ago I used Rainbow Editing, which helped before I started to use active verbs in my first draft. I sometimes use those word count programs--ones that find my overused words or adverbs.

Tips or tricks you find helpful?

How much do you put into a revision? Meaning, you have to eventually let the book go. How many times do you go back to revision before sending it on its way?

Really any advice on revision is helpful. Maybe we can, as a collective, help each other become better at the awesome, super fun art of revision.








J.A. (Julie) Kazimer on Email
J.A. (Julie) Kazimer

J.A. (Julie) Kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO. When she isn’t looking for a place to hide the bodies, she spends her time with a pup named Killer. Other hobbies include murdering houseplants. She spent a few years as a bartender and then wasted another few years stalking people while working as a private investigator before transitioning to the moniker of WRITER and penning over 15 titles. Visit her website at

5 thoughts on “Tom Sawyering Your Writer Friends into Helping Revise Your Book

  1. I have critique partners to point out problems. I revise as I go because the thought of keeping track of the details when I make changes sends me screaming for chocolate. Once I hit “the end” (which I don’t type, either), I print out (and read aloud) the entire manuscript to see what else I’ve missed. I run the manuscript through SmartEdit to pick up errors that my eye/brain glosses over. And, as I’ve learned from producing audiobooks, I have Word’s “speak selected text” function (I call him Fred) read the manuscript again. Fred, although his pronunciation can be laughable at times, reads exactly what’s on the page, not what your own too-familiar-with-the-book has you seeing and hearing. Yes, when you read your own work aloud, you’re still going to miss stuff because your brain knows what you meant, not what you wrote.

  2. Ooh. I hate to interrupt you when you’re having so much fun, Juie! hahahaha!! I’m exactly there, having recently written those words THE END on the final page of my manuscript. I *do* write THE END, emphatically, delightfully, punishingly pounding the keys when I finally get there. I’m a plotter and, like Terry, I revise as I go, polishing the last scene before moving on to the next. If my Inner Child begins resisting BICHOK, I may have to forego the editing just so I can sit down and forge ahead with new words. For brevity, I’ll mention just one process I use. As I write, the story develops, taking new directions I hadn’t anticipated with the initial storyboard of scenes. I may discover a deeper “worst fear” for my protag, for example, in chapter 8. I have a REVISIONS page where I make note of what needs to be added in the previous chapters to develop the character arc. By book’s end, I may have two full handwritten pages of what I need to do *before* passing it on to trusted and wonderful critique partners for a beta read, and before doing the ritual ‘page one to end” read.

  3. Well, if I were Jeffery Deaver, I’d hire staff but alas…

    An honest, well-rounded critique group is difficult to beat.

    Recording yourself reading your work.

    Don’t print until after you’ve gone back over the first draft so the developmental and copy edits are more solid, this is far less frustrating for me. Back away from the completed story for a day, center your mind on gardening or hiking or cleaning or yoga or meditation for when the mind is relaxed, then comes the best ideas/changes/inspirations.

    Put your worst scene(s) into screenplay format. Then invite friends and relatives over for a FUN party. Film your guests performing your play and then observe the looks on their faces. At the next party, all the neighbors will want to join in too!

    A personal secret, I’m a fan of Murder She Wrote. Jessica always acted out her most difficult scenes. Me too, (which my cat hates) but my imagination and the logistic part of my brain enjoy.

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