The Fourth Stage (and the final cherry) to Revision:
STAGE FOUR (TRIMMING AND ICING)
The finish line is in sight. That freshly baked story is smelling of perfection, but don't rush out into the world of querying or submissions yet! This final phase might be the difference between landing your dream agent or signing that elusive book contract!
So far, we have located the perfect recipe, included all the necessary ingredients, ensured each step was followed in the correct order, and refined our techniques to produce the best possible story cupcake we can. (If this is sounding more like a baking blog than a revision post, check back to the first four posts to get caught up. Don't worry, we won't eat the cupcake until you get back!)
Now that we know the inside is delectable, it's time to trim the spillover and add the icing, sprinkles, and that final cherry on top.
To make this final stage easier on my grammatically weak mind, I splurged on a boxing-week sale for ProWriting Aid. Do you need fancy software to find the passive voice, clunky sentences, cliche analogies, weed words, and all those many spelling mishaps? Nope! Does it make it one heck of a lot faster? Yup! Will it catch everything or even have the best advice for your writing style? Certainly not. But does it help lay down a pretty first attempt at icing that cupcake? Absolutely!
I have not tried the paid version of Grammarly, but I know it provides many of the same benefits. If you don't have a budget to spend on software, you can also take advantage of the free versions, and trust me, even the free versions will catch lots of mistakes.
Here are the tools I used to doll up my manuscript:
Weak Adverbs: You know how Stephen King feels about "-ly" adverbs? Well, ProWriting Aid must be friends with him. It shows all your weak adverbs in underlined glory!
Unusual Dialogue Tags: Most editors will prefer for you to use "say/said", or to take out tags altogether if not needed. ProWriting aid assists you in finding them all!
Echos: This tool checks my writing for words or phrases that may be repeated in close proximity
Overused Words/Weed Words: This one compares the frequency of commonly overused words in my text compared to published writing.
Grammar/Spelling: This takes into account any unusual grammatical uses (including incorrect articles/prepositions, missing commas/punctuation, etc.), passive voice, and spelling mistakes (including using "whales" instead of "wails" ...yup, I did that.)
There are many more tools I could have sprinkled onto this manuscript. The "glue score", for instance, is one I played with the tighten up some of my wordy sentences, but I didn't use it throughout because I was worried it might influence the voice of my characters. So, use these tools to "decorate" your manuscript as you see fit.
I also used the "FIND/REPLACE" tool in Word to ensure I have the same spelling for all my places and characters' names. I can also use this tool to ensure I haven't repeated favourite words or analogies across the entire manuscript too often. For instance, "light" came up in my beta reader feedback as something I use too often in analogies and similes.
A side note on beta readers: I use beta readers at different stages of my writing process. If you would like information about how I find them, how they help me at each stage of revision, and how each one provides the best kind of feedback, let me know! I'll create a post for next month!
THE CHERRY ON TOP
If you have it in you, (and you must), the last task will be to read through your cupcake...I mean eat through your manuscript...I mean read through your manuscript OUT LOUD! We all make mistakes that get lost in the passion of our story. In these previous stages of revision, you will have retyped the same sentences dozens of times. Your brain won't catch all the missing articles or the need for a period instead of a comma. We also want to listen for the musicality of our sentences, the combination of sounds, and the rhythm of word choices. This is where we can ensure the right amount of sprinkles and place the last shiny cherry.
Thanks to the invaluable help of my beta-readers, and these four stages of revision, I am confident and excited to enter my first round of submissions to editors for this new manuscript. I hope these posts have helped to inspire your own creative spark and revision pathway, or at the very least, made you crave a well-decorated and delectable cupcake!
Good luck! I'd love to hear how your revisions worked out for you! Feel free to message me or leave a comment!
Want to know how I create unforgettable proposals? I can also share what I've learned along the journey in a future post or newsletter!
(Be sure to check back to my first post: Revise your Story in Four Essential Steps (The Cupcake Method) for an overview of all the steps we have covered. )