How Do I Revise a Third Draft?

Dear Melody…

Time for outside input. Get into a YA fiction critique group, sign up for a critique with an author/editor/agent at a conference, or hire a freelance editor. Fresh, knowledgeable eyes can see what you’ve become blind to. In the meantime, work out the kinks item by item. Do a pass just for characters, making sure they grow through the story; a pass for plot, ensuring that all events build upon each other to move the plot forward; a pass for dialogue, checking the flow and the balance between talking and telling; a pass for setting, giving readers enough to picture the place and characters to act on or react to; and a pass for word choice, replacing dull words with dynamic ones.

Happy writing!

The Editor


  1. My crit groups and beta readers are invaluable. (I start giving the ms to my crit group from the second draft and when it’s at third-draft-stage, I give it to the betas.) Of course, there’s nothing better than having a professional editor look it over. They have far more experience and know what the market wants.

  2. Do agree with this. It’s how I approach final editing. In fact, I stop counting whether it’s 3rd, 4th or 50th edit. I pass through my books so many times, I lose count. But each time, it’s with one specific goal in mind. Often I do a pass for each character as well, making sure they are consistent with who they are, there’s a story arc for each one, etc. Spelling, grammar, comma consistency, everything gets a pass through. And each time, I find something. At the very, very end, I do a final pass and try to imagine I’m a first time reader and I just bought (or downloaded) this book. What does this new reader think? If he’s happy, then I send it to a professional editor (I know a really good one!). I take those comments and start all over again with the editing process. Finally, I reach a point where I know it’s done. Then I send it around and while I’m busy getting rejected by editors, agents and publishers, I start writing the next one. Dreaming that eventually, I’ll strike gold. Or at least a shade of silver. :>)

  3. Thanks for sharing this approach. It has made me rethink some of my characters in my first YA. Just looking at one aspect of the book at a time helps you see things that need improvements.

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