Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chip Scanlan offers revision tips

Some people hate revision. Me? I love it. I love everything about it. Finding a more perfect word. Tightening. Strengthening the verbs. I love taking a not-so-bad piece and making it better.

On Thursday, I watched a webinar led by writing coach Chip Scanlan. I love this dude. Very down to earth. Anyhow, here are some of his tips. I think they apply to fiction writers as well as journalists.

1. Your first draft is going to suck. That's just the way it is. Chip says it's OK if it sucks. You can write badly because you're going to write well.

2. Read your story out loud. If you don't have a person to read it to you, use text-to-speech technology. If you do have a partner, let them read it and you mark up the hard copy with changes you need to make.

3. Use the "find and replace" key to search for all the "ly" adverbs and make your verbs stronger, more active.

4. Watch "to be" verbs. Instead of "was strolling" say "strolled."

5. Become the reader. Often when you allow some distance from your work you will see things you didn't as the writer.

6.  Learn by studying what other people write. Notice how they construct sentences, what works and doesn't work. Learn from their mistakes and apply these lessons to your own work.

7. Embrace revision. It's an important step in the writing process and one that shouldn't be rushed.

8. Never give up. Ever.


  1. I love revision too, maybe because I do it so much. Those are great tips. I'm working on looking for those "to be" verbs right now.

  2. Terrific advice, Buffy. I've always said the first draft is like the honeymoon. It's all hearts and flowers. The editing is the marriage. It takes hard work, a sense of humor and lots of patience!

  3. Buffy,
    Thanks so much for your very generous words and for taking the Webinar. It's always heartening to connect with a writer who knows the territory.

    And Louise, I love your honeymoon-marriage metaphor. I post writing quotes on my Facebook page. Can I put yours on there, with proper credit, of course? I'm at
    Happy Revising!