It’s back! The revision process feature, where some of your favourite writers tell you how they revise their manuscripts, the ones you go on to read, after they’ve written that difficult first draft. I have a whole host of great authors lined up for you, and to kick them off today I have Sam Carrington.
Sam is the author of the psychological/crime novels Saving Sophie, Bad Sister and One Little Lie. She worked in the NHS for fifteen years and following the completion of a psychology degree joined the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing.
You can read Sam’s First Draft process HERE.
Your first draft has been completed, what state is it generally in?
Pretty good, I think, because I edit as I go.
What is the first thing you do before you start to revise?
After I’ve let a few days pass (if that’s possible due to time constraints!) I’ll get a new section of the notebook open ready, get a coffee, faff about on social media to delay the inevitable, then open the MS.
How do you assess the damage that needs working on?
I just work on things as they crop up when I’m reading through from the beginning. If it’s something I feel will need more than ten minutes sorting, I’ll make a note of it to come back to during the second read-through.
Do you allow anyone to read that very first draft before revisions or can you assess it objectively yourself?
I used to! Now I don’t have time between deadlines. My agent will be the first to read it.
What do you initially focus on, when approaching the completed first draft of the manuscript?
Because I will have been editing along the way, I’ll be reading to see how it flows, whether the plot works, and checking for any gaps and inconsistencies.
Do you have any rituals, writing or real-world, when revising a manuscript?
I tend to approach it the same way each time. Read through, altering easy bits, then back through to tackle more challenging bits. I make sure I have drinks and snacks by my side to aid this process!
In what format do you revise, paper or computer?
Laptop. I’ve never printed off my work. The only time I make changes on paper is at the proofreading stage when my publisher sends the pages to me.
How messy is the revision process – can you go in and repair areas or does the whole manuscript get decimated?
It’s usually a case of going back in and repairing areas.
Is revision an overhaul of the story or is it minor editing?
When I’m revising, I’d say it’s minor editing. It’s at the structural edit stage after my editor has looked at it that it’s more than that. But I wouldn’t say even then that it’s a major overhaul – usually it’s a case of having to add in scenes, flesh out characters, go deeper into motives and add description.
What’s the biggest change you’ve made to a story during this process?
I haven’t made big changes when I’ve revised my novels. That tends to come with either my agent’s initial feedback, or my editor’s structural edit. With Saving Sophie, prior to it being subbed to publishers, I took out an entire point of view character after my agent’s feedback, so was left with about 10 k to write. The killer’s POV came out, and more of DI Lindsay Wade’s POV went in!
When first drafting, many writers keep track of progress by counting words in a day. How do you make sure you’re progressing as you’re revising?
I just plod on through the revising stage. As long as I’m making progress of some sort each day, I’m happy. The deadline will dictate whether I end up panic-editing at the latter stages…
Do you prefer to write the first draft or do you prefer the revision process?
I prefer the first draft. Without. Doubt.
What do you drink while you’re working?
Currently, I’m drinking a G&T (haha) But when working on my novel, it’ll be coffee. Lots and lots of coffee!
How long does this process take and what shape is the book now in?
For One Little Lie and for book 4 (which I’ve just sent to my editor), I had about a week to revise before sending to my agent, and then a further week after her feedback to revise and send to my editor.
Thanks for showing us the inner workings!
You’re welcome! Thank you for having me on your blog ????
You can find Sam on her Website | Facebook | Twitter
One Little Lie
‘My name is Alice. And my son is a murderer.’
Deborah’s son was killed four years ago. Alice’s son is in prison for committing that crime.
Deborah would give anything to have her boy back, and Alice would do anything to right her son’s wrongs.
Driven by guilt and the need for redemption, Alice has started a support group for parents with troubled children. But as the network begins to grow, she soon finds out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control…
They call it mother’s intuition, but can you ever really know your own child?
Deeply psychological and suspenseful, One Little Lie is a twisty and unnerving story about the price of motherhood and the unthinkable things we do to protect our children.Perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Laura Marshall.
You can find the rest of the Revisions process series HERE.
Margot Kinberg says
So glad this feature is back! It’s such a great way to learn how different authors go about it. I always get useful advice. Thanks, both.
Sam Carrington says
Thank you, Margot! I love this feature too – always fascinating to see how other writers approach this process!