Revision Is a Process: How To Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing by Catherine E. McLean


A first draft holds the possibility of what will be a great story. Revision turns that rough diamond into a spectacular gem worth a reader’s money and time.
Book Cover Revision is a Process
Writers are individuals but to be a producing writer means creating a system to revise and polish a work so the reader thoroughly enjoys the story. REVISION IS A PROCESS is a guidebook for writers and authors that shows how a simple 12-step process can be tailored to eliminate the most common and chronic maladies of writing genre fiction. This valuable guidebook contains secrets, tips, practical advice, how-to’s, and why-to’s for taking the frustration out of self-editing.


Readers, enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC:

Ten things most people don’t know about Catherine E. Mclean:

  • My parents owned a greenhouse that was an acre and two thirds under glass. They raised vine-ripened tomatoes for market. My joy and that of my three siblings was to use the cardboard tomato baskets to build “houses.” Of course, Dad insisted that when done playing, we stack every last basket. After all, tomorrow was picking day.
  • I have two black cats that are not actually coal black but a very dark seal brown. When the sun hits them, you can see their black tiger strips. Nodd is female and likes to nod off in my lap. Mr. B is male (he’s Nodd’s brother). He loves to be outdoors—hunting.
  • I’m a blue-ribbon winning amateur photographer. My favorite subject is nature (rocks and flowers). I showcase some of my pictures at my website
  • My husband is a retired mechanical engineer and he points out the logic flaws and science flaws in my stories. After all, readers are logical people—they will quit reading if the science or the magic or motives of characters don’t ring “true enough.”
  • I gave my daughter a love of reading and books. She is my beta reader and will tell me when I have “emotional whiplash” or “comma trauma.”
  • I had a conversation with William A. Sabin (God rest his soul) who edited the Gregg Reference Manual. That manual is a necessity for secretaries (which I was for many years).
  • I trained and rode a bay Morgan mare to become a Reserve National Champion in Competitive Trail Riding. Purchased as a yearling, she was to be my English Pleasure Horse (a show horse), but when I discovered distance riding, that changed. I and my husband bred, rode, trained, and showed Morgan sport and pleasure horses. I rode Hunt Seat, Saddleseat, Hunter Over Fences, Pleasure, Western, Sidesaddle, and drove in both pleasure classes and obstacle events. Being retired now, we no longer have horses, and I miss them.
  • I’ve sewn since the age of seven, was a 4-H’er who was runner-up to the Ohio State Fair twice, and I continued all my adult years being involved in 4-H. I retired after twenty years as a 4-H leader (teaching sewing, cooking, and photography). I still compete at the local fairs with my sewing (and I still bring home blue ribbons).
  • I sew costumes for Darq, the doll who represents the heroine Darq in my sci-fi adventure novel JEWELS OF THE SKY: I often say it was kismet that two weeks after the book launched, I found the doll on eBay. The premise is that she is visiting Earth as an ambassador from her homeworld and she stays with me (thus avoiding publicity and the paparazzi). Helping her stay incognito are the Men In Black (MIB). It’s been a lot of fun because Darq gets invited to great parties. For Halloween 2017, she’s going to a dude ranch (at an undisclosed location) and needs a “Prairie Dress” for the chuck wagon affair that includes square dancing. In the past, she’s been invited to visit a witch in England (and needed a steampunk outfit to fit into that society) and she went to Mexico to be interviewed by Father Dragon. Check out the costumes and outfits—Darq is a doll with a blog: .
  • I am a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). My interest is basically costuming. I sewed medieval costumes for my daughter and her doll, which won prizes at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire. In 2015, I made a Lady of Sienna medieval gown for Darq (JEWELS OF THE SKY’s doll-avatar). Mind you, I don’t have patterns for any of these costumes. I work from artist’s sketches, and believe me, artists don’t show seam lines so it’s challenging to figure out what pattern pieces are needed. I also use tailoring patterns from old books on costumes through the ages.
  • Have I ever made myself a costume? Only one—an 1850’s replica of a sidesaddle coatdress. It is all one piece, buttons down the front, chain in the hem (keeps the wind from flipping the hem), lined, and made from wool suiting fabric that I ordered from a men’s tailoring establishment.

I’m curious. Of the ten unknown facts about me, what did you find was the most interesting?

Excerpt from Section 1, An Overview of Revision is a Process:

. . . revision is a process . A logical, straightforward process where you don’t try to find and fix everything at once. Instead, you break the monumental task into component parts and focus on only an item or two at a time.

Okay, so the reality is that creative people, especially writers, hate logic and straightforwardness. And it’s a fact that logic and creativity have always been at war with each other. After all, creativity gives a writer a high like no other. It’s the fun part of writing and storytelling.

On the other hand, revising, rewriting, and self-editing are linear, logical, objective—and not fun.

But necessary.

Ever so necessary if one intends to be commercially successful in the writing business.

Here’s something I’ve learned about writing and self-editing—a writer should find a middle ground. That means having the logical part of one’s mind work with the subconscious imagination (the creative self).

It’s about adopting a different view of self-editing—calling it a process—and diligently organizing that process into small steps that can easily be done. This gives a writer confidence that they have polished their story and increased its marketability.

I strongly believe, and have seen, that revision-as-a-process enables a writer to use both their left (logical) and right (creative) brain to become even more creative.

That’s because the writer not only tailors a one-of-a-kind process but they also develop their own revision master cheat sheets. As a result, the creative subconscious (the imagination) becomes aware of the pitfalls and glitches that must be checked for, and subsequently, little by little, the creative self dishes up better first drafts with far fewer errors.


Catherine E. McLean’s lighthearted, short stories have appeared in hard cover and online anthologies and magazines. Her books include JEWELS OF THE SKY, KARMA & MAYHEM, HEARTS AKILTER, and ADRADA TO ZOOL (a short story anthology). She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes lighthearted tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds (fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal) with romance and adventure. She is also a writing instructor and workshop speaker. Her nonfiction book for writers is REVISION IS A PROCESS—HOW TO TAKE THE FRUSTRATION OUT OF SELF-EDITING.







7 thoughts on “Revision Is a Process: How To Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing by Catherine E. McLean

  1. Hi, Catherine. I narrowed your list down to three unknown facts that were “most” interesting – you building houses with the tomato cartons, your husband being your logic editor, and the chain in the hem of the sidesaddle coatdress to keep it from blowing. If forced to choose one of these, I would choose the sidesaddle coatdress costume.


    • Hi, Janet,

      Yes, that was some outfit. I still remember going to the hardware store and asking for years of chain (the clerk gave me one of those looks, and I quickly translated it into feet. I think it was 9 ft. It’s a lot of skirt flare. Thank you for stopping by today and thank you for comments. May you have success in the raffle.


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