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Revise by retyping your manuscript

I once read an interview with Australian writer, Blanche D’Alpuget, who said that when she was finished with her first draft, she would print it out, take a deep breath and delete the original file from her computer. Then she would make herself type the whole thing again from the printouts.

I’m doing revisions myself right now, but I don’t have the guts to delete my draft. However, I like the idea of starting from the beginning and retyping it. I think D’Alpuget’s strategy forced her to justify every word by reading and “rewriting” the whole manuscript. It’s easy to get attached to your sentences, gloss over what is on the screen, and fail to make full-out changes the manuscript needs.

As I’ve been rewriting my memoir, these are a few things I’ve noticed:

Repetition. In the first draft, I wasn’t sure where scenes were going to end up and after shuffling scenes and sections, I ended up with repetitious content that I can spot more easily now that I’m revisiting it from page one.

Epiphanies about additional meaning. Time away from a draft can be a beautiful thing. Now that I’m looking back on what I wrote, I see more opportunities to build some sections out. It’s as if my story was percolating in my subconscious the whole time I was away from it.

Telling where I should be showing. Now that I’ve gotten the story down, I can see opportunities to create new scenes and build out existing ones. As I retype the manuscript, I’m listening to my instinct to tell me what it needs. I’m noting in brackets where I’ll come back to build out a scene or section.

What are your favorite or tried and true revision tactics? Please share in the comments below.

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