The Six R’s of Revising Your First Draft

April 21, 2016 | Posted in April 2016 A to Z Blog Challenge, Author Resources, Writing & Grammar Tips, XterraWeb Book Blog | By

The Six R’s of Revising Your First Draft

The Six R's of Revising Your First Draft. How to revise the first draft of your novel.


The Six R’s of Revising Your First Draft

  • Reading as a reader
  • Rewriting sentences or sections for clarity and flow
  • Replacing weak words with stronger words
  • Relocating paragraphs and chapters
  • Removing sentences, paragraphs, and scenes that slow the story’s pace
  • Restructuring your story


  • Let it sit for a few days.
  • On the first read-through, read as a reader. Don’t read as a writer or an editor. You want to experience your book like your readers will.
  • Some writers print their first draft. It can be easier to leave notes on a printed version.
  • Focus on the big-picture items first (e.g., pacing, plot, structure) and then on characters and dialogue.

Watch for:

  • Awkward wording: highlight words/phrases that don’t sound right or don’t make sense.
  • Pacing: watch for parts of the book that seem to slow down and drag. Make a note of these parts as this is where readers could potentially stop reading your book.
  • Plot holes and inconsistencies
  • Poorly developed or extraneous characters
  • Coincidences and too-convenient leaps of logic
  • Long, rambling conversations or sections of narrative full of detail (a.ka. information dumps) that can slow pacing and don’t advance plot or reveal something about the characters
  • “Pet” or “favorite” words and other words/phrases that are repeated frequently.
  • Passive vs. active (telling vs. showing) words and scenes
  • Telling how the character feels instead of showing how the character feels
  • Scenes that use vague details instead of concrete details

Ask yourself:

  • Does my story make sense?
  • Does my story flow smoothly?
  • Are transitions smooth or jarring?
  • Is the plot compelling?
  • Are the main characters well-developed and likable with strong goals and sufficient motivation?
  • Do character evoke an emotional response?
  • Are any characters flat and one-dimensional?
  • Are there any inconsistencies with timing, setting, plot, and character descriptions?
  • What is dialogue like? What dialogue tags are used? Are action beats used? Is it essential to the scene? Does it reflect the character speaking?
  • Is the opening compelling? Does it “hook” readers?
  • Are there scenes and/or actions that are boring or too similar to other scenes and/or actions in the story?
  • Are scenes a good mix of narration, action, dialogue, and insight?
  • Is there enough conflict and tension?
  • Are any actions unbelievable?
  • Is the ending satisfying or unsatisfying?
  • Has the conflict been resolved at the end?
  • Is the POV effective and consistent?

What do you find the most challenging about the revision process? Is there something you like/dislike about the revision process? Please share your opinions on the revision process in the comments below.

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Query Letter Tips

April 20, 2016 | Posted in April 2016 A to Z Blog Challenge, Author Resources, XterraWeb Book Blog | By

Q is for Query Letter Tips

Query letter. Elements of a query letter. Query letter tips. How to write a query letter.

Before beginning the query process, have a finished and polished manuscript ready to go. Make sure your manuscript is the best you can make it. You can hire editors and/or proofreaders to assist with polishing your manuscript.

What is a Query Letter
A query letter is a formal letter sent to magazine editors, literary agents, or editors and/or agents at publishing houses or companies. Writers write query letters to propose writing ideas. A query letter is a sales pitch and should be written in such a way as to spark the reader’s interest.

Purpose of a Query Letter
The only purpose of a query letter is to entice the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work.

Elements of a Query Letter
In addition to the opening/introductory paragraph and the thank you/closing paragraph, include the following:

  • What you’re selling: Title/subtitle, word count, genre/category
  • Hook (approximately 100–200 words). This is your “sales pitch” and is your novel summed up in such a way it will entice the agent or editor to request your work. The hook should include the following details:
    • Setting/time period (optional, based on genre)
    • The protagonist and his/her conflicts
    • The choices the protagonist has to make (or what is at stake)
    • What makes your story stand out and sets it apart from others in the same genre
  • Your bio (optional for unpublished fiction writers): include relevant qualifications and publishing history, if any

Tips for Writing a Query Letter

  • Use quality paper with a weight of at least 20# in white or off-white colors
  • Do not use stationery in unusual colors (e.g., mint green, hot pink) or with little pictures in the margins
  • Consider using personalized letterhead with logo
  • Use a professional font (e.g., Times New Roman, Courier)
  • Follow query guidelines set forth by editor, agent, or publisher
  • Make sure to point out your novel is completed
  • Restrict yourself to one page (Two pages only if necessary)
  • Be professional and respectful
  • Make your points quickly, clearly, and concisely
  • Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope
  • Address and direct the letter to a specific person by name and title (Check the spelling)
  • Personalize/customize the letter for the recipient (If you met the agent at a conference, include this fact.)
  • Don’t include sample chapters unless specifically requested to attach to the query letter

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