Ask any writer and they’ll almost always agree on one thing: revision is the key to good writing.
First drafts are almost always bad. Revision is how you take a messy first draft to something that people actually want to read.
And the more complex your writing project is, the more important revision becomes.
We’ve spent thousands of hours reading good writing, and a fair chunk of those hours breaking down that writing.
Here’s a common revision process you can use to make your writing better:
- First, revise for ideas. This is high-level, big-picture stuff. Go back to what you’ve written and ask yourself if your ideas make sense, and if you need to completely rethink things for the writing to work.
- Next, revise for structure. Now that you’ve figured out your ideas, decide how to present your ideas. Should you bring a novel paragraph up to serve as the hook for your piece? Should you create a more narrative flow? Something else? This stage is important.
- Then, revise for tone. Determine what tone you’re trying to use, then read your writing aloud and edit to make your writing fits that tone.
- Finally, revise for sentence-level improvements. Once you’ve done all of the above, you can hone in on the specific, sentence-level stuff. Make your writing sing.
This four-step process is used, in one way or another, by many of the best writers out there.
By starting high-level and progressively getting more specific, you reduce the chance of anything big slipping through the cracks.