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Revision Readiness Kit

You've done it. You've finished your manuscript and you love it so much your heart is ready to burst. It's mysterious. Coy. Full of intrigue. And heart-wrenching yet charming at the same time. You kinda want to have its babies.

And now you're going to rip it to shreds. But before we begin carving up that MS like a Christmas ham, we need to make sure we've got everything in order. So just what supplies will you need? Let's break out our... 
Revision Readiness Checklist

1.Nutritious Brainpower Food

Screw that. You're going to need chocolate. And plenty of it. Or ice-cream Or cookies. Pick your poison. (Word is Kristin's handy with the baking if you need some ideas.)
Remember that moment in your first relationship where you finally ditched the rose-colored glasses and realized that burping the entire alphabet, while quite a feat for a sixth-grader, really wasn't all that endearing? Prepare to realize the same with your manuscript. But as you're sloughing through awkward dialogue and mangled metaphors, take comfort in knowing buried deep inside there is the beautiful story you created.

2. Eyedrops
Unless you want to peel your eyelids away from your burning retinas, you're going to have to find a way to minimize the effects of staring at a computer screen for hours on end and sadly, tears of frustration simply won't do the trick. Check out this cool download Michelle tweeted about last week. The F lux application automatically adjusts your screen display based off of the time of day. It saved me from having to peel my contacts out over the past few days and the best part is, it's free.
You could always rock the sunglasses at night look for late night computing.

3. Songs of Encouragement 
You might have been blessed with some awesome writing besties, but at this stage you're not quite ready for betas. While they can send you smilies and cheer you on on-line, ultimately you are the one who has to keep your butt in that chair and not give in to the temptation to fling your computer into a wall and run away to a foreign country, change your name, and take up looming. 
I personally prefer songs such as Eye of the Tiger and the like, but you should create your own playlist based off of your tastes.

4. Red Pens
Believe it or not, my worst grades in school weren't in math (though they were a close second). They were actually in handwriting. My worksheets were always returned with horrifying red slashes, marks and a giant D at the top. This is probably why to this day, I still prefer print over cursive (which I do just fine now, thank you very much). Nevertheless, this color is one that stands out and draws attention since it's associated with signs marking danger and the emotion of anger. If you're working from a printed manuscript, all that red you will scribble might seem intimidating, but it could help by standing against the white page and black lettering. 
At least I had perfect attendance, Mom.

5. A Level Head
You're a writer. This might seem like a lost cause already. But do your best to push your emotion and connection to the story to the side and really look at your manuscript critically. I know, I know. That one snippet of dialogue is so utterly amazing that entire books will be written about it alone. But if it doesn't contribute to or push the scene forward, it's gotta go. Keep an open document to copy/paste things like this in. You never know if they might find a better home somewhere else in the manuscript.

6. A Magical Time Stopping Machine
Time can be your worst enemy in revisions. It can take weeks--months--to turn a draft into beta-ready material. But even once it reaches that point, you will likely have even more editing and revising ahead of you. (Unless you're one of those people who can whip out a damn-near perfect story in no time flat that everyone thinks is splenderific. If that's the case, I'm sorry. We can't be friends.) It's hard to get that story into shape if you can't find more than a few minutes here and there to work on it. Some days things are flowing as smooth as syrup, while other times you spend an hour on those few sentences that keep eluding you. Do your best to block off a few hours to really dig in and when life is too crazy to spare you that, work on untangling the parts that have been giving you trouble so that when you get to sit down with the manuscript again you know precisely what you need to get done.   


Amanda Hannah

Amanda grew up on a big farm in a small town with one stoplight, one school, and a handful of imaginary friends.She would’ve gone to college forever, but eight years and five majors tested her advisor’s patience. So she moved to Germany to explore creepy castles before landing in Spain where she’s perfecting her Flamenco.

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  1. If you invent a time stopping machine, let me know :P

    Great post, I love it!

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  3. ooo, I want a time stopping machine too!

    Great post!

  4. Consider them all in my RRK, ready and raring to go! Thanks for the motivation :D

  5. Haha, very cute. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  6. F.lux rules! Glad you like it. And this is a fantastic list!

  7. Great post. Exactly what I needed. :D
    It's kind of funny that you mentioned Eye of the Tiger because that's the song that got me through the end of writing my manuscript. And now I have to go back and strip the lyrics out. (Oh goodness, what had I been thinking?)

    And I think I'm in a great need for a time stopping machine. I've been editing/revising since December... of course, I think I've gone three or four months total without any revising taking place.

  8. I want a TARDIS, with a yummy Doctor in it.

    The best thing you need when you're revising is Reality, The Little Voice and Supportive Friends.

    Reality tells you what needs work.

    The Little Voice talks you through the "yeah but" moments. If you ever look at a scene and you're thinking about cutting it but you say "yeah but" the little voice will say, "CUT IT YOU MORON!!"

    Supportive friends will help you through the soul crushing "I suck, what the hell was I thinking, I need to give up and throw my computer and dreams out the window and onto a freeway and watch them exploded into a billion piece" phase.

    A good friend will talk you out of it, or help you throw and grab the Flip camera. Either way.

    Great post.

  9. I also find reward sticker charts helpful. But then I get a kick out of sticking on the next sticker every time I've done something off my to-do list.
    Very good post.

  10. Oooh this is such a perfectly-timed post! Awesome advice (and I am so glad you linked to the screen-adjusting stuff. life-saving indeed.)!

  11. I really needed this post because I'm starting my next round of revisions real soon, and I'm trying not to freak out! This post helped.


  12. haha LOVE this. Just finished mine a few days ago and am getting antsy/nervous/excited about revising. Woo hoo? Totally agree with the time stopping machine and the burning retinas. :)

  13. I got terrible grades in Handwriting, too! I had too much to say to slow down, dang it!

    Awesome list.

  14. I'd add post-it notes and post-it flags to the list (nope, I don't own stock in the company, but I should). And, of course, more chocolate.

  15. Awesome tips, especially the eye drops. Duh, no wonder my eyes are hurting!

  16. Love it!

    I just had to cut some (of what I thought were witty and hilarious) lines of dialogue that I loved because although entertaining to me, they really didn't do anything for the story...

    Great timing with this post.


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Item Reviewed: Revision Readiness Kit Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Hannah