GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Inkwell: UF author Erin Fulmer - My Five-Step Revision Process + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Inkwell: UF author Erin Fulmer - My Five-Step Revision Process + giveaway

My Five-Step Revision Process

For me, revision is where a book really takes shape. When I think about drafting vs. revision, I think about how a wood carver starts their work by roughing out the general shape from the raw material. That’s drafting. But revision is where the carving starts to look like itself, where the details are added, and where the rough spots are sanded away.

In this post, I’m not talking about line edits—that comes later. I’m talking about a full revision, a redraft. In this part of the process, everything is fair game, from cutting entire scenes to writing entirely new ones, scrapping characters or adding them, and removing plot points that no longer serve the story.

Step 1: The Read-Through
In step 1 of a full revision, I print out the previous draft and read it in hard copy from start to finish. I cross out sections, underline sentences I like, and write notes in the margins. These notes range from hearts and smiley faces to harsh indictments, depending on how I’m feeling about my writing that day.

My therapist ordered me to stop writing “meh” in the margins and instead give myself actionable critique. Instead, I write notes like “NEEDS MORE SPICY TIMES” and “why are you like this?” This is probably following the spirit rather than the letter of the law, but it’s a work in progress.

Step 2: The Reverse Outline
Because I tend to be a “pantser,” or to use the more refined term, a “discovery writer,” my first drafts can be somewhat chaotic. Even if I start with a detailed outline, I almost always diverge from it. I always intend to update the working outline as I go, but I only sometimes follow through.

That’s where a reverse outline comes in. That isn’t an outline that starts at the end of the book and goes backward to the beginning, as you might expect. Instead, it’s an outline that you create after the first draft is written.

I use Microsoft Excel for this, with columns for chapter name/number, main events of that chapter, character arcs, setting, etc. My spreadsheet has evolved over time and become quite complex. I usually chart word counts for each scene and track story beats at this stage to check story structure and pacing. On the right hand side I note down any issues that need to be resolved with particular scenes or elements.

Step 3: The Self-Edit Letter
In this step, I try to collect my thoughts from the margins and the reverse outline into an actually actionable to-do list. Oftentimes during this process I’ll notice that my notes tend to build on each other or repeat themselves. Repeated themes in my notes may point to a global issue, though it’s not always a big fix. Sometimes it just means adding a couple of lines of explanation in a crucial spot.

When I dig into the actual work of the revision, I’ll cross items off in the edit letter as I address them. This helps keep me on track and ensures I don’t forget anything, big or small. It especially helps me keep character arcs and conflicts consistent by keeping important elements on the top of my mind.

Step 4: Set Word Count Goals & Deadlines
I use a system of self-imposed deadlines to keep myself motivated during long projects. My brain is primarily motivated by urgency and a fear of failure, which means I will always fall behind my goals and then pull it back in a last-minute comeback. Revisions often go faster than first drafts, because not everything needs to be rewritten, so I try to set a relatively high goal.

I then figure out how many days I have to finish the revision and how many words I revise. Thanks to my engineer spouse who understands how to create Excel formulas (which I do not), I now have a spreadsheet that spits out my daily word goal for me and even tells me how far behind I have gotten. I usually plan at least two months for a full revision cycle.

Step 5: Ready, Get Set, Revise!
Once I have my revision plan in order, I open my manuscript in Scrivener and move the previous draft to an archive folder. Then I create new blank scene cards and chapter folders. Sometimes I will fill in descriptions of each scene, especially if I have planned anything new, but I don’t always do this.

I use a split screen view to look at the old draft while rewriting. I try to force myself to retype most of the material, however, because this helps me avoid glossing over any small issues. I start from the beginning and rewrite mostly in order, though sometimes I do skip over a section if I’m stuck on what needs to change.

This step is the meat of the revision, where the pedal hits the metal, the rubber meets the road, and the writer meets the writer’s block. Yes, I still get blocked when revising. It’s easier than drafting because I’m not coming up with new material. But if I handwaved it in the first draft and said “Eh, I’ll fix it in post!” now is the time I curse my past self for saving the worst problems for last.

Whew, Revision Done! Now What?

Once I have a fully revised manuscript, I send it out to betas and critique partners, or to my editor, or both, depending on my timeline. And then, unless I’m very lucky and pulled off a miracle, the process begins all over again!

There you have it. That’s the super fascinating five-step process of how I revise. I revised CAMBION’S BLOOD twice last year, starting from an extremely rough first draft. It’s amazing how much it changed in each iteration, but at heart, it’s still the same book. I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, and I hope you enjoy reading it if you decide to pick it up!

Cambion’s Blood (Cambion, #2)
by Erin Fulmer
June 7th 2022
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Half-succubus attorney Lily Knight has blood on her hands.

Haunted by guilt, behind on her rent, and facing professional disgrace, Lily must figure out how to survive in the wreckage of her former life. To make ends meet, she accepts a contract job she never wanted but can’t seem to avoid—hunting another demon murderer. This time, the victims are human, and a shadowy government agency will reward Lily with a way out of her dire financial straits.

If Lily doesn’t solve the case before the news gets out, fear and hatred will put all demonkind at risk from the proverbial torch-carrying mob. But when a young succubus on the run from the authorities begs for her help, Lily faces a new conflict of interest—especially after the suspect, Eve, reveals her father is Lily’s old frenemy.

Now Lily must juggle the pressures of a high-stakes murder case, her complicated relationship with her “not-boyfriend” Sebastian, and responsibility for a wayward teenager as she races to find the real killer. Worse, the culprit isn’t just a demon, but a self-proclaimed goddess who will stop at nothing to carry out her bloody quest for justice. To stop the killings, Lily must confront that which she most fears: the truth about what went down with Eve’s father in the desert—and its consequences.

That is, if the goddess doesn’t get to her first…

About the Author:
Erin Fulmer (she/her) is a public benefits attorney by day, author of urban fantasy and science fiction by night. She lives in sunny Northern California with her husband and two spoiled cats. When she’s not writing or working, she enjoys yoga, taking pictures of the sky, playing board games with friends, and napping like it’s an Olympic sport.
CAMBION’S BLOOD, the second book in her Cambion series and sequel to her debut urban fantasy CAMBION’S LAW, is out June 7 from City Owl Books.

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