The Writing Process: The Revising Stage
Before we get into what the Revising Stage of the writing process is, I want to make clear what revising is not, it is not editing. Revision and Editing are two distinct stages of the writing process. Revision and Editing have different goals or objectives. I will consider the editing stage in detail in the next part of the writing process series.
The Revision Stage
During the revision stage, we are going to be looking at and dealing with the big picture. We are still dealing with getting the story on paper or in computer memory the way we want to tell it. No writer gets the story right the first time. During revision, we perfect character development, dialogue, and story timeline. We assure that the story progresses and flows naturally from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph and chapter to chapter. The process that we go through during the revision stage of the writing process can be remembered by using this acronym—A.R.R.R.
A stands for adding new material. Sometimes in our haste to get the story or article on paper, we leave out information that our readers will need to understand what is happening. We may need to add material because the article or story falls short of the minimum word count. Fleshimg out an article or story to increase the word count offers the perfect opportunity to go back to your prewriting stage notes to find ideas that we have not already used in the story or article.
The First R Stands for Rearranging. If you reread The Writing Process: The Writing Stage, you will see where I said that it does not matter if you wander off track with your story's timeline. Quite often as we finish one scene, we get an inspiration for a bit of action or dialogue that should come much later in our story. Do not worry about timing, just write the action or dialogue before it slips away from you. That is what Rearranging is for. We cut it out of it current location and pasted it back in where it should have gone. Back in the day before the dedicated word processor or computer, we literally cut the paragraphs apart and then taped them back together in the right order. That was a time-consuming process. Today we can do in minutes what once took hours. During rearranging, we perfect the story's timeline and make sure the story flows smoothly from the opening sentence to the closing sentence.
The Second R Stands for Removing. Sometimes a bit of action or dialogue that we wrote just does not fit into our story, now is the time to remove it. Today, all we have to do is select it and hit the delete key, and the text rearranges itself to fill up the gap left by the deleted text. Back in the day of the typewriter, we had to cross out the unwanted text and then draw those funny looking lines to show how the text was to be pulled together. During this stage, we also selectively cut out text when we have gone over the maximum allowed word count.
The Third R Stands for Replacing. Sometimes we write a piece of description or dialogue that just does not work the way we want it to; this is where we remove it and replace it with description or dialogue that does work as we want it to.
Next time we cover the final stage in the writing process, the editing stage.