Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 23, 2016

The Longhand Revision Experiment

Veritas Cover ArtLike many writers, I have more than one Work-In-Progress (WIP) at any time. I have sent out one WIP to beta readers, and I have FINALLY gotten back to my revision WIP, Veritas. I had not worked on Veritas since June 28th, which gave me all sorts of angst. But this past week I was able to revise 4,878 words—4 chapters.

One reason not being able to work on Veritas was eating at me was because I was in a pivotal point in my writing process. I mentioned that I have returned to writing longhand at certain points in my process. I began doing that last year, when I realized that I could not revise deeply on the screen—and the first chapter I revised longhand was Chapter 51 of Veritas. I revised in that manner to the end of the book, then started at the beginning. And where was I in the revision when everything ground to a halt in June?

Chapter 50. One chapter away from closing the loop.

This revision has been slow, as I expected. After all, some chapters I was writing longhand almost from scratch. Other chapters I would write longhand just the sections of the chapter that really needed more depth added. Still, it’s a long process when you’re dealing with an entire novel.

But this week, I closed the gap. And now that I am back into the section I already revised longhand, I can see that I will be faster from here to the end. Sure, there’s still places I need to fix, but I think they are all fixes I feel I can do on-screen.

Handwritten page blurredMy experiment into revising longhand has been a success. I see more depth, more creativity in word choice, more subtle character development, and a distinct change in my writing style. I still have to figure out at what point I want to use longhand when I start novels from scratch, but I will definitely use it.

What tricks have you learned that help you with the revision process? And if you use longhand, where in your process do you use it?

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Responses

  1. I thought I was the only one using longhand at all. 🙂 I write most of the first draft in longhand. Once the novel is typed, I have found that printing out the document and making revisions on it in longhand is very helpful. I also read the entire novel backwards one paragraph at a time to catch issues I miss when I’m lost in the story and seeing what I expect to see rather than what’s actually there. I like you idea of deeper writing. You’ve given me something new to consider when revising.

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    • I’ve been finding more people going back to longhand for at least some parts of the process. I think your brain just works differently when you have that tactile input. I don’t think I could read the novel backward, though–I’d get too confused! 🙂

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      • I thought it would be confusing, too. However, I discovered so many things doing it that way. I only did it once. Couldn’t face it again, but it really worked. Enjoying your posts, Kerry!

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