Top Three Tips for Revision

by Rosie J. Pova

Somewhere along my 16-year journey as a writer, I've learned to love revision. I've learned to embrace it and trust it was on my side ― helping me rather than torturing me.

So, now, that's one of my favorite parts of the writing process. I always tell my students in my writing classes that revision is where the magic happens and the sooner they accept that, the better.

Of course, not all stories take the same amount of revisions to get them polished. And also, just because I've been writing, revising, and critiquing for so many years, doesn't mean that major revisions are in the past for me. It all depends on the project ― some take more, some less, and that's okay. There's no exact formula so, prepare to be flexible. In addition, keep in mind that the amount of revisions does not determine whether or not you've produced a publishable work.

For example, my upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain (Lantana Publishing, March 2021) only went through a few tweaks. Honestly, that's the manuscript I've revised the least out of all my works. That rarely happens, but it could happen. It was fast to find a publisher, too.

On the contrary, my other upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success (Yeehoo Press, Spring 2022) is the one I've revised the most so far. It went through tons of revisions, even after acquisitions!

So, I have the two extremes, coming out into the world as books, back-to-back. Isn't that interesting!?

But how do you handle revisions?

Let me share three of my top revision tips with you here (I teach my full list and more in-depth processes in my 8-Week Online Writing Picture Books: From Creation to Publication):

1. Craft a killer opening line

Spend some time analyzing your opening. You've heard about "hooking" the reader, but what exactly does that mean? Make your first sentence intriguing. Does it evoke a powerful image? Prompt a question? Introduce the tone, voice, premise? Is it funny or clever or silly? All of these are the opposite of boring or bland. Give that first line some flavor!

2. Use strong, active verbs

Why settle for a weak verb when you can replace it with a much better option? Go through your manuscript and evaluate all of your verbs. Can you find a better choice? Replace!

3. Identify the crime scene

Separate each scene and run it through this checklist:

―Is there a transition that connects well with the previous scene?

―Are there redundancies that will be shown in the art? (Cut!)

―Is the dialogue authentic?

― Is the pace too slow/too fast?

―Is the vocabulary strong?

Make each scene shine, connect well with the ones before and after it, and contribute strongly to the story as a whole.

Did you find "the crime scene" ― the one that doesn't belong because it either slows the pace or maybe it can be shown in the art or perhaps causes confusion? Delete it and tighten. When you do that scene by scene, it makes it easier to find the issues in your story, plus it gives you bite-size tasks so that the process doesn't feel overwhelming.

I hope you find these helpful and apply them to your work.

Happy revising!

BIO: Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author, poet, speaker, and writing coach. She's a Writing Instructor for the Dallas Independent School District through The Writer's Garret, an instructor with Writing Workshops Dallas, teaching online picture book courses to children's writers, and also serves as a judge for Rate Your Story. Rosie speaks on many women's topics as well and has appeared on radio and print media. Her upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain, celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships. Her other upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in spring of 2022. Visit Rosie at

Social Media Links: Website: Twitter: @RosiePOV [] IG: FB:


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