Do you need to know more about how to revise your novel?

My daughter took Think Sideways. Wrote her first novel. Is working on revising it now.

And she said, “You know, I sort of get the One-Pass Revision, but I wish you had something a lot more in-depth for people who still aren’t sure which parts of what they’ve written are good, and which parts need to go. I want to have the whole thing broken down into tiny steps.”

Other people have said the same thing.

The One-Pass Revision is the way I revise my novels now. But now, I know how to look at characters, decide which need to stay and which need to go, and which need to be folded into other characters. I know where my writing was good and where it was bad. I can spot failed plotlines. I can identify the holes where description, conflict, and backstory should go.

When I was just getting started, my revision process was equally grueling, but different. I didn’t know the things I know now, so my process didn’t take anything for granted.

I still remember how I revised back then, and I wouldn’t mind teaching that method.

I’m just not sure how many people would actually want to spend three or four months doing a really intensive revision on their novels.

If this is something that would interest you, post here and let me know.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and indie-publish my new ones.

364 comments… add one
  • meela Aug 18, 2009 @ 15:23

    Yes, please!
    I’m going to be writing the last of the five and then revising them all, so a step by step would help tons!

  • Teresa Salvatore Aug 18, 2009 @ 15:20

    Hi Holly
    First I would like to thank you for creating this fantastic resource for all of the budding novelists and seasoned writers out here. It has been a great source of information and encouragement. So Thank You!
    I am currently working on my first novel. I am, to be honest, going at it blindly. I find myself revising as I am going along – which of course is probably a big no-no! But, when I find myself with a bit of a block as to what exactly is going to happen next, I re-read the previous chapters and revise as I go.
    I would really like to hear more about your methods

  • Mical Aug 18, 2009 @ 15:08

    Heck, yeah! I’d love more direction in this area.

  • Rebecca H Aug 18, 2009 @ 15:04

    Yes, this would be awesome! Would it be available seperately, like a one time course, or would you have to be part of the How to Think Sideways course? I can’t really afford the HTTS one, but a singular one on revision is definately something I’d invest in.

  • Dawn Kaufman Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:56


  • Joelle Walker Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:51

    Dear Holly,
    As an editor for an e-publishing house, I have referred several of my authors to your One-Pass Revision; yet, considering many of the submissions are from “first time writers,” I think something in greater depth and more step-by-step would prove invaluable as a reference. Thanks.

  • Sharon Hatton Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:49

    I’d be very interested.

  • Kat Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:44

    Yes! I am great with the first draft part but the one-pass just left me wondering if I’d gone farther afield! I’d love more information.

  • Amazing Blair Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:43

    The complete revision course would be a great learning process to study and absorb. Please do present it, Holly. Thanks!

  • Michael Tatum Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:35

    Dear Holly,
    Yes indeed this would be most helpful! Having reviewed a number of the comments posted this appears to be a very popular request. I am currently working on my first novel — well, I have started numerous projects that got to the proverbial “35 page” status…and then ppffffft! Much like you have described some of your past frustrations. At any rate, I have been working on “Cotton Country” for 8 months and am at about 120K+ words; however I feel like I am only roughly halfway there and I don’t exactly want this to be an epic novel. As such, it will require a great deal of editing, revision, deletion, etc. And having a step-by-step process or guide on how to go about this would be awesome! Keep up the great work. Your words of encouragement for us fledgling wanna-be authors is priceless.

  • Meghan Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:34

    I would be interested in the step by step revision workshop. I’m currently on my 6th revision, and working with an editor, but I would love to see the step by step, and perhaps learn how to condense the process, so I don’t have to go through 6 revisions. It gets bad when you are tired of rereading your own work!

  • Cris Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:33

    I am very much interested in learning your old form of revision.

    Kind regards,


  • Maxine Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:29

    Yup, sounds like just what I need, or should I say have needed for the last year!

  • Kitty Taylor Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:28

    I’d love to hear what you have to say.

  • Katie Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:28

    Hi Holly! I’ve been following your blog and your lessons for five years now, and your lessons are one of the biggest reasons I was ever able to write something coherent and worth reading. I’ve finished my second novel in February and it’s taken me six months just to edit the first act. Please do a course on editing! I would love to hear what you have to say.

  • Donna Omo Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:25

    I’m not sure if I should be taking the Think Sideways course or the How to Revise course. I have two novel WIPs, neither really complete. I don’t expect anyone but me to be able to answer that; I’m going to have to look over the Sideways course more closely.
    But I do think its time I got some direction and help with my intended career. Now.
    Thank you!

  • Katina Ryder Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:20

    Hi Holly: I am only on lesson 5 in the Think Sideways course but would be very interested in learning how to revise and make better all writing I do. So Yes, I would be interested in your new course. I am learning so much in Think Sideways. THANK YOU for all you do.

  • Sonya Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:11

    Oh yes please.

  • Adria Laycraft Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:09

    I have always struggled with the revision process, especially on novel-length projects. I am currently winding up a big re-visioning of a novella I wrote a year ago, bringing it up to novel length and fixing a ton of logic problems and plot holes, so I *think* I know how to revise, but I would love to see your take on the matter. I have studied your One-Pass Revision and it didn’t help me out in this case.

  • Jenny Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:03

    Yeah that would be a good technique to know

  • Chelle Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:01

    I would love to have a workshop!!!

  • Bon Johnston Aug 18, 2009 @ 14:01

    Definitely, I would love to know the process you used when you were editing your first few novels. I’ve got a checklist that I’ve started for myself, based on what I know my weaknesses are, and I used that as I read each scene doing the One Step process, but I feel like my checklist could be more complete.

  • Julieann Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:59

    I would love a course about this. I did pretty well revising my last novel but I’m sure you have lots of little methods to streamline the process. The One-Pass isn’t working for me yet.

  • Mareena Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:58

    Yes, please!

  • Danielle Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:53

    I’d be interested. That’s where I’m a bit stuck right now. Revising. 🙂

  • Christine Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:52

    I’d be interested too.

  • Julie Berg Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:51

    Yes, Holly, I would love a course on how to revise my first novel. I have three novels that are in some stage of revision, but I keep getting stuck about 2/3rds of the way through. A “tiny step” process would be such a big help.


  • Yasemin Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:51

    I would loooveee to!!!

  • Susan Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:50

    Assuredly, yes. Please. I am just on the verge of finishing my novel (before school starts in the fall) and hope to do revisions on it during the December break. I was going to do the one-pass method for the revisions, but if there’s something in greater depth available, I’d be interested–though it would also depend on the price point.

  • Adam Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:48

    Just finished my 1st draft that took me a few years to do. I have young kids and other distractions. Needless to say, any step by step help like this would be wonderful!

  • Joan Rhine Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:48

    I would be interested in hearing more about this program.

  • Kate Robertson Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:42

    I would be very interested in a class like this

  • June Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:41

    I would be interested.

  • laura Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:40

    Yes, I need help. I too was a nurse until my knees gave out on me–but since grade 3 wanted to be a writer. Since I can barely walk, I have no more excuses but to sit on my ass and write. I’ve managed to publish 9 shortstories, articles and essays, and I am struggling with my first novel (not counting all the starts that I burned 15 years ago in a ‘I’ll never write again for as long as I live!” fit! I like your style, I like what you have to say, and how encouraging you are. Bring on the courses!

  • Aisling Burke Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:39

    Yes, please. I’ve just received a request to see my full manuscript so I could really do with something like that.

  • Vivian Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:39

    I would be VERY interested.

  • Kalev Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:38

    If I ever finish a novel, then yes, certainly.

    As it is, I’ve got a short story I wrote half a year ago that I’m tempted to throw out and start again… but if I could not do that and still save it I’d be much happier doing that.

  • JJ Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:36

    Yes, I would be interested.

  • Zoe Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:33

    I would LOVE a revision course. I have a lot of trouble with revision – it’s hard for me to keep track of everything I need to be thinking about, and I’m never sure where to start.

  • Sarah Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:32

    Yes, I would be interested in a step-by-step revision course. It’s going to be hard enough to hack up my novel, without having a clue on how to do it!

  • Michael Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:29

    Oh absolutely. This is the one biggest problem I have. Well, okay, *one of* 😀

  • Stacey Riley Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:27

    Yes please!

  • Gail Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:27

    Yes, yes, yes. I have several of your books and they’ve been a great help.

  • Joan Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:26


  • K. Cunningham Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:25

    Yes, yes, yes. I’m currently in possession of a massive manuscript with a lot in it that doesn’t need to be in it and lacking in the structure and central idea that would make it cohere and work. I think there are a ton of people who could benefit from your advice on how to deal with these issues. You don’t mess around and you know what you’re talking about…in our game a lot of people mess around and a lot of people don’t know what they’re talking about. Do it!

  • Dianna Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:24

    I’d love to see a course like that. Of course I don’t really have the money to invest in a course right now (I’m in the process of moving out on my own and that=poorness) but I know I would take it later on.

  • Terra LeMay Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:23

    Yes, I would be interested.

  • Angela Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:18

    Yeah I would like to hear what you have to say too. 🙂

  • Eleanor Everett Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:18

    I think the course is a great idea.

  • Red_dot Aug 18, 2009 @ 13:17

    I have not gone through the side ways program, but yes any and all help. I am an IT guy and work on many projects, most geeks have no clue on project management. So I am breaking my book down into small parts and attacking it as a project. So explaining in a more detailed way would help me for sure.

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