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

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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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  1. Siobhan Davis
    April 22, 2016

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    I love the editing process as it’s great to see the book really starting to take shape. Even if I have days where I feel my writing isn’t up to scratch, I keep going, because I know I’ll fix it during the editing phase. My editing process is actually pretty close to what you have outlined above. I always print the first draft as I find it very handy to mark notes as I go along, and to highlight sections to move from one chapter to another. I make those initial changes and then pop it into my kindle to see what else I spot. After another few rounds of self-editing, I add it again to my kindle and identify the last few niggling issues to fix. Then I send it to you!
    The part I dislike the most is fixing my repetitive words and phrases – what you refer to as common/favorite words. It tends to take me about a week to go through the MS with this in mind, and I find that part very tedious, but essential. Great post, Kelly!

  2. emmaeatsandexplores
    January 28, 2017

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    I love writing something and then re-visiting is at a later datE. You can see it with fresh eyes and take a different perspective on it. Almost always you find something you can change for the better!

  3. Renee
    January 28, 2017

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    Great tips! I know this is more geared toward writing a book or novel, but many of these tips can be in general writing as well, such as working on my dissertation. I tend to use several “pet” words that I have to watch for constantly.

  4. Hrakaridi
    January 29, 2017

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    This post is awesome!! You gave us a lot of useful tips that i haven’t thought 🙂 Thanks <3

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