Write Now and Revise Later, or Right Now, Revise?

“I don’t write a quick draft and then revise; instead, I work slowly page by page, revising and polishing.”
– Dean Koontz

There are many ways to go about writing and revising a story, each of which is used by successful writers today. There is no single way, no magic formula, for this. It is something that is learned, experienced, and employed by each and every writer individually.

Some common methods are:

  • Write an entire first draft, then go back and revise. Don’t go back and read the sentence you just wrote, just get the story down.
  • Write some, revise some. This makes writing the first draft longer, but helps lessen the amount of revisions needed at the end.
  • What first draft? Some writers make writing and revising a simultaneous process. It is no easy feat to make this work, and takes years of writing experience.

I, like Mr. Koontz, am one that writes a little and revises a little, adjusting the trim on the story as I fly through it. I feel this process works for me because I like to ensure that I’m moving the story in the right direction as I write it. In part, it’s because I’m afraid the story might derail as I go along, if I don’t go back and check on it. Plotting ahead of time helps this, though.

The main question I find with this process, though, is how much does one write before going back to revise? That is a question best answered by the writer employing the process, as every writer will have a different preference.

Which method of revision do you use?


About The Weekend Writer

I've had a passion for the written word ever since I learned to hold a pencil. I wrote prolifically in my youth, but less as I grew older. Now, I write around a full-time life like many of you. I hope to share encouragement, success stories, and helpful information with fellow writers of all stages, including weekend writers like myself.

Posted on March 25, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I am defiantly in the plow through the whole first draft right to the end and only then go back and do revision. I find if I try to revise as I go I get bogged down in details and I lose the thread of the story

  2. I am of the first kind but I’m usually not very good at it. I like writing things in one go and then I go back and revise. I reivse a couple of times and then publish but I am apparently not very good at it because I am always finding errors in the things I write but it is something I want to work out. I don’t like very much revising sentence by sentence or something like that, because then I feel like I may lose any cool ideas or lose my momentum if I stop every now and then.

    • Eric,
      I couldn’t agree more on revising sentence by sentence. I like to “check back” every 15 pages or so to make sure I’m writing consistently, but like writing with “full steam ahead” to keep that momentum.

  3. When I work on a novel, I try to only read enough of the previous work session to keep things straight in my head; I resist tinkering with it. I do the real revising after the first real draft.

  4. I only go back and revise when there’s a consistency error or plot hole needing fixing. All the small stuff I leave for later. It saves me from getting bogged down with edits, but leaves my MS in a fairly solid shape for the big revision stage.

  5. I also agree with the opening quote. I find if I try to plow through I don’t connect with the story enough to make the piece cohesive. When I carefully write each chapter, revising it, polishing it, than the following chapters are better.

  6. We love the write/share/revise method. A true honing tool is what every writer needs.

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