children's writer

How A Pantser Has Fun While Editing

Feb 8, 2013
I've wanted to write a post on revision for a while now, but hesitated because there are so many awesome posts on revision out there already. I didn't think mine would be adding anything new to the stew. In fact, I still don't but a girl's got to revise.

Back in the day I was working on a middle grade novel called Summer Spell. I finished it in about three to six months and edited it in less than two months. My editing method went as followed:

1. Receive notes from critique partners/beta readers
2. Comb through novel changing things they suggested
3. Send off to agents

I don't think I need to say why this method didn't work for me, but I will anyway. I completely ignored the big picture. Needless to say, that manuscript is now on the shelf. 


1. I'm one of those people who can't afford to print a 200+ page book, so that's where my Kindle and Pinterest comes in. As much as I love words, I'm also a visual person. Uploading my novel to my Kindle with a customized cover makes me feel as if I'm reading a real book.

Pinterest also allows you to create three secret boards. I create boards for the characters & town specific to my current novel.

2. I do like to edit chronologically, so I'll read starting from the first chapter. I like to edit in small groups of five or six chapters at a time. Before I start reading I'll write the chapter's number or title on the blank side of the index card. As I read I'll write the date and time of day the chapter takes place right underneath the chapter title. I'll also write a one to three sentence summary of every scene in that chapter on the lined side.

While revising, I kept my characters is mind. Creating a character bio for my MC helped with fleshing her out.  Character bios and index cards go very well together. I use the white index cards in the pack to jot down my novel's theme. Keeping it in mind while I revise helps me see the big picture.

3. In addition to using index cards to outline, I found writing down any grammar, spelling errors, or sentences I'd like to change is better for me than using the highlight feature on my Kindle. I find it less tedious. I also used my trusty notebook to write a quick summary on the setting, which is something my beta readers said I needed to work on. I like to create my own towns, so this really helps me flesh them out.

4. If there's ever a moment I get stuck, I'll consult whatever book on writing I have or I'm reading at the moment. With my current novel, it really helped to know exactly what my first chapter was supposed to entail and honestly showing vs. telling always stumps me.

5. Finally, I must admit I do like to write and revise with music in the background once in a while. I have three specific stations I listen to on Pandora. I love stations that have mellow music so that it isn't too distracting. Sometimes I like to shuffle. 

I also love to pick out a theme song for that specific novel. I chose Little Bird by Lisa Hannigan for my current novel's theme song because it's a beautiful song that speaks of heartbreak, and my MC suffers a lot of it.

Since using this method, I feel like I'm actually making strides in my quest for a better novel. As always, thanks for taking the time to read even if the information was "nothing new."
4 comments on "How A Pantser Has Fun While Editing"
  1. I think your process for revising is awesome! I do a lot of the same things--index cards, using my notebook to jot down grammatical issues and so on.

    I tried to figure out how to put my book on my Kindle, but couldn't figure it out. The help website I found didn't even work. How do you put your book on your Kindle?

    1. Hey! Thanks for the comment. Index cards are the best revising tool ever. As for adding your book to your Kindle, I'll shoot you an email.

  2. I love that you create your own book covers for fun! I should try that. I didn't use Pinterest at all when writing my first book since by the time I created an account, I was well into revising and didn't feel I needed the visual inspiration. But I'm starting a shiny new project so pinning a few images and listening to some songs may help me find my story. :)

    1. Truthfully, I don't have any pin-boards for my projects either. I'll usually begin a new book without creating one. I'd like to have them for future books. I can't wait to read about this new project of yours once you're ready to share. :D