Monday, 30 July 2012

A Glimpse into the Revision Process for a Novel

Revising The Queen's Secret, 2011

Here is one sheet of The Queen's Secret at manuscript revision stage in 2011, taken from a stack of about 550 hand-revised pages. This novel is currently available on Kindle and in hardback.

In this scene, my Tudor protagonist Lucy Morgan faces a charge by an angry bear at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire.

As you can see, revising a book for publication can be quite complicated. Several members of the editorial team, including the author, may mark up a manuscript at different stages of the revision process. I chose this particular page to feature on the blog because it contains a number of revision suggestions by different people, including myself.

Sometimes changes are quick and simple to execute, just snips to speed the pace or split over-long sentences into shorter ones for ease of reading. Here you can see the first half of the first paragraph has been cut. Too much description can slow a scene, so paragraphs with no other purpose but to describe are often sacrificed at revision stage, especially in an action scene like this.

Sometimes a change made elsewhere in a manuscript produces knock-on changes that need to be picked up throughout the novel to maintain continuity. Changes for continuity are an easy matter when working in a Word document, but as you can see, this particular manuscript was marked up and revised by hand. Hence all the highly technical arrows, loops and squiggles!

Some pages remained almost untouched at revision stage for The Queen's Secret. That means less work as we head towards publication. But I'm happy when a page needs the squiggle treatment, because I know it will be a far tighter read by the end of the process.


  1. Hi Victoria,

    I found your blog while searching for English historical authors. I'm currently writing a story based on the discovery of my Great Granddad's diary from the Ypres trenches.

    This post gives a good insight to the editing process. Although I'm sure it can be daunting, I'd love to be in that position!! I guess, eventually, it can only be beneficial to have so many sets of eyes perusing the manuscript!

    Now, I'm off to find a good read about the Tudor paranormal...!!



  2. Good luck with that project, Neil. Diaries from Ypres? That sounds utterly fascinating, though probably a lot of hard work too. I wish you all the best. V.


Many thanks for visiting my website and commenting! Victoria.