So that NaNo novel? I finished the first draft of 93K words in 7 months. That might seem like a long time, but it was the fastest I’ve written a novel so far. This month my YA heist novel went through three rounds of revision and then I sent it to beta readers and a freelance editor. What I know now, because patterns, it that early revisions are the grouchiest time in my writing cycle. Every single day the book was tugging at my mind and keeping me at my computer when I should’ve been doing every other life and parenting activity. Sorry family!!
In the classroom, students rarely have the opportunity to go through a single full, deep revision, let alone three or more. Many places I work, students think revision is editing – fixing spelling and punctuation. When I’m invited to guest teach revision, we start with the question, “What are your goals for this piece of writing?” For my poltergeist book, the overall goal was to write something scary. For this book, I needed to make the pace relentless and the choices of the characters inevitable. Helping students revise the writing toward a goal (to be funny, to shed light on an unknown thing, etc.) helps them shift a little, but without reinforcement and lots of practice, revision goes back to capitalization and ‘you need a new paragraph here’.