Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fisticuffing Revisions Into Submission

I recently received a R&R on a partial request (this agent read the first 100 pages of my manuscript). The agent was kind enough to include a lengthy list of suggested edits for the manuscript and stated that if I’m willing to make these changes, then she would love to see the manuscript again.

First, I was elated. That means there was something about my story that she loved enough to be willing to give me a second chance, rather than just outright reject me. Then, I became anxious and worried. I already have a R&R with another agent and had already submitted my newly revised manuscript to her—the very same version this other agent gave a R&R to of the partial.

I immediately went into a tailspin of worries. If this one agent felt all these things needed changing, then it was highly likely the other agent would also see the same things. Then I run the risk of receiving a rejection! I don’t know how many times an agent is willing to extend a R&R, but I bet it isn’t too many times.

Well, once I quit chewing my nails to a stub, I pulled myself together and emailed the agent. I politely informed her I’d just received a R&R on a partial request and included the list of suggested revisions I’d been given. Since this is a subjective business, I asked if she agreed with these changes. If she did, I wanted to pull my manuscript (she hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet, so this was a bonus), revise some more, and then resubmit with an all new fresh, shiny new version yet again. Because she’s awesome, she had no issue with my doing this and even encouraged it.

So, yet again I venture forth into the revision cave. This will be the second time I’ve done MAJOR revisions on my novel based on agent feedback. Don’t even ask me how many other revisions based on feedback from critique partners and beta readers this book has gone through. I’ve honestly lost count.

Since I’m in the middle of this craziness, I thought it might be nice to detail out how exactly I approach my revisions when I’ve received some in-depth feedback:

First, I compile a list of all the critiques. If you do a separate one on index cards, it’ll make the next step easier.

Second, I categorize each suggested revision. I group worldbuilding, characterization, specific story plots, etc. all into their own tidy piles.

Third, I get out my story outline (for me, this is a paragraph summary of every single chapter) and brainstorm ideas for how to approach all the proposed revisions.

Fourth, I decide on which additions or cuts I’m going with and flag which chapters I expect these to occur.

Fifth, I open up my word document of the manuscript, save a new file of it for this version, and get to work!

Everyone has their own method, so my way is by no means the only way. In fact, how do you approach revisions? I love seeing how everyone works. I sometimes adopt other people’s methods if I feel it might work better for me than what I’m presently doing!


  1. Good luck with your revisions! That is SO exciting that you have two agents in interested in it. Keep us updated ;)

  2. I'm going through this now. My full is with another agent but I got a nice r & r from a top agent on my list. I'd be crazy not to follow her suggestions! Best of luck!

  3. Wow. You sound so much more organized than me. I just keep everyone's suggestions in my head. haha. Then I go through the book and change stuff. Or, if I have their critique in front of me, i'll keep it up on my desktop side by side with my book and make changes based off that. I like your method though.

    Good luck on the revisions. It's really exciting that she took the time to do that. My friend, Karen, just got signed by an agent who originally asked for revisions, so fingers crossed for you!!