My Revision Checklist

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Today I thought I’d share my revision checklist. Once I’ve finished my first draft of my novel, I’ll pull out this revision sheet, which I’ve compiled based on a few editing courses and books I’ve read, as well as from my own trial and error (my first failed novels Sad smile). I’ve broken my revision down into two stages. Stage 1 is the deep revisions: adding more emotion and depth to my story. Stage 2 is more about construction and grammar.

l Stage 1

□Build awareness into every time hero and heroine are on page together (there should be at least one moment of notice between them on each page).

□If characters are not together, they should think of each other at least once on every page.

□Build emotion in ‘black moment’ and love scenes (Important!)

□Add sexual tension.

□Fill any plot holes.

l Stage 2

□Do universal check for -ly and -ing words. Replace as many as you can.

□Do verb check. Replace weak verbs with stronger ones (look, walk, stare).

□Check dialogue tags. Get rid of all unnecessary ones.

□Check dialogue for each character to make sure it’s believable for them.

□Change all unnecessary passive tense (was, were, being, been) to active

□Get rid of felt, knew, thought, realized words.

□Check for “as” prepositions. Make sure to put cause before the effect.

□Check to make sure characters don’t use each others’ names too much.

□Watch for excessive or unnecessary use of the following words or phrases: of, own, my God

So what do you think? Anything in particular you’d add to this checklist? Anything that seems crazy to you? Smile


12 thoughts on “My Revision Checklist

    Rebecca Rose said:
    November 19, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Repeat words. As a New Englander we use a lot of- just, wicked, like. I highlight these words and then change what I need to.

    Have a Sparkling Day!
    Rebecca Rose

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 19, 2010 at 8:59 am

      I use a lot of “just” too. Not as much as “own”. It’s in about every other sentence!

    Rachel Firasek said:
    November 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Thank you so much, and I hope you don’t mind that I plan on snatching your list and adding it to mine. Great post. Love that you share everything that you learn.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

      Don’t mind at all! I do like to share and learn from others. I think the “skill” part of writing is something that we can all learn and grow from; it’s the “creation” part that is unique to each and every one of us.

      Thanks 🙂

    Katalina Leon said:
    November 19, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Great list Rosalie, I think I’ll copy and keep it!
    I always have to double check on the physical choreography of where the characters are in the room or what position I left them in, especially in erotic scenes.
    XXOO Kat

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 19, 2010 at 10:16 am

      Thanks Kat!

      You make a great suggestion. It’s prudent to check that characters stay where they are supposed to and keep what they are supposed to have. When I was doing my first revision for my last manuscript, I noticed my villain went from having a dagger to a sword, with no explanation as to how that happened. Oops! 🙂

    Whitley Gray said:
    November 19, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Hello, Rosalie.
    I send the manuscript through a cliche checker, a duplicate/overused word check, and a sentence variation check.
    And of course, there’s nothing better than a crit partner check!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

      Yes! Critique partners are worth their weight in gold. Invariably there’s always at least one big thing that seems perfectly clear to me but makes my crit partner say “Huh?”

    Christine Ashworth said:
    November 19, 2010 at 11:33 am


    I have to make sure my characters are clothed. Too often when one comes on scene, there’s no description of any kind of them – clothing included!

    Great list!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 19, 2010 at 11:35 am

      Thanks Christine! That’s a good one. I too tend to initially under-describe my characters.

    Julianne said:
    November 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Just is one I look for too. I think I use it too much. My crit partners scream at me for repeat words, but you know, even in reading real-live books, those never jump out at me. So I guess it’s just a preference thing.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm

      I never realized how much I use repeat words until it was pointed out to me. It’s like my mind skips right over the repetition!

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