This morning I read a post by Dave Farland on revision and his suggestions and ideas are very good. I’ve included part of the article:
“Editing a novel isn’t simply a matter of eradicating errors, it’s an opportunity to add as many virtues to your work as possible. Does your novel suffer from weak descriptions? In your first pass, put them in. Would your work benefit by having stronger hooks at the opening to each chapter? Make a pass and put them in. Could your novel be better if your character had a more distinctive voice, or if we showed more internal dialog? You can make your novel better in the rewrite phase.
“The truth is that there is so much to do to write a good novel, that many novelists find that it is better to focus on it in a couple of passes, in just the same way that a painter creates a masterpiece by laying down the paint in dozens of layers, letting each one dry before making another pass.
“Sure, you might find some weaknesses when you’re editing, but you should be more concerned with adding virtues.
“Some authors naturally do one or two things really well. For example, Shannon Hale has a gift for creating gorgeous metaphors, and her use of language is lyrical and beautiful. Tolkien had a gift for world creation that was pretty much unequaled at his time. Orson Scott Card is fantastic at creating gripping arguments, showing penetrating insights into his characters’ conflicts. I love George R. R. Martin’s excellence at creating resonance, or Patrick Rothfus’s command of voice, or Dan Well’s control of tone and his gift for finding fascinating ideas.
“But in order to become a bestseller, you normally have to develop a number of skills. On a scale of one to ten, you might look at yourself and ask, where am I? Am I at a five when it comes to creating character voices? Am I only at a one when it comes to world creation? Does my work completely lack hooks or foreshadowing?
“If you’re average in most ways but manage to excel in two or three, editors will find you to be publishable. In fact, if you’re excellent at three things, it creates a sense of a pattern of excellence, and you’ll probably become a bestseller. That’s all that it takes.
“Given that, when I’m editing from now on, I’m going to try to work on developing new talents. For example, I might decide that I want to be at least a nine when it comes to creating hooks. Or maybe I’ll try to develop my themes to the point that I can honestly say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone handle this theme as well as I just did.’