1) Take messy first-draft version of chapter and rewrite it to the point I'm willing to let my critique group read it. This means cleaning up prose, but also rethinking action, character reactions, dialogue flow, sometimes even a blank-page rewrite if something's changed significantly in the story after rewrites of previous chapters.
2) Hand out chapter to critique group. Get feedback pointing out issues (often relating to tension, pacing, or depth of emotional interaction).
3) Tear hair and gnash teeth trying to figure out a way to address problems. Think of an idea, get halfway through rewriting scene, realize it still doesn't help. Think more. Despair. Eat cupcake, or (preferably) do something outdoors. A-ha! Sugar or adrenaline rush leads to way better idea, one I can see immediately will address issues and make story 100% better.
4) Realize brilliant new idea means rewriting entire chapter from scratch (and maybe the one before it, too). Weep copiously. Save old scenes to "deleted scenes" file and go back to step 1.
Outdoor exercise and plenty of sleep do much to speed up steps 1 and 3. Sadly, as a parent I don't get the chance for nearly as much as I'd like of either. But: good news! This weekend, I'll be enjoying both. My awesome boss invited me and some other friends up to her house in ski country for a little "ladies ski weekend," and my equally awesome husband agreed to take off work and wrangle our son solo so I can spend Thurs-Sat in mountain heaven. I don't know what's more exciting: the idea of skiing hard all day long in chutes and trees, or the idea of sleeping an entire night through without a little voice going "Mommy, I'm scared..." at 3am. And yes, I'm bringing the ol' laptop and plan on getting some quality revising time in addition to the other fun.
|The best aid to revision ever. As long as you ski wearing a helmet (which I do).