Notes On Revision From Writer Ashley Farley

As I hammer through revisions on two projects, I wanted to share a fresh prospective.  I “met” writer Ashley Farley through February Write-A-Thon.  This was a Nanowrimo type contest hosted by Ashley.  Through encouragement from her and my fellow participants, I drafted the novel I am currently editing.  Ashley self published Saving Ben, which can be purchased via Amazon:



What is your revision process?

I don’t consider myself in true revision mode until my third or fourth draft, when the major work is complete and all that’s left is the fine-tuning. Of course there is always plenty of fine-tuning to do—grammar corrections and sentence restructuring, fact checks and time-line verification.

I always take a little time—at least two weeks—away from my manuscript before I begin to revise. Taking this break helps clear my mind so that I can start my revisions with a fresh pair of eyes. When revising, I read through my manuscript multiple times, each time with a different element in mind. I consider adverb usage. I make sure my sentence structures are varied. I analyze dialogue. And when I finally feel like I’m close, I follow these three steps in this order:

1)      Change the font as it helps errors stand out.

2)      Have Alex read selected sections to me—Alex is the automated voice on my computer. For Mac owners, these controls can be set in system preferences: system preferences-system-diction and speech-text to speech. Alex is the best thing EVER.

3)      Print your manuscript and comb through the pages with a red marker the old fashioned way. Words look different on paper.

What were the lessons I learned (about writing and my process) from Saving Ben?

Truthfully, I learned the most about writing and my process from my first never-will-see-the-light-of-day novel Legend of a Rock Star. I had BIG ideas for that book—three different protagonists with multiple points of view, plot lines that jumped back and forth within a forty-year time span. I changed points of view several times—from first to third and back again. I learned so much about what NOT to do with Legend that writing Saving Ben was easy in comparison. Well . . . almost.

The biggest lesson I learned with Saving Ben is the value in hiring a professional editor, for a manuscript critique as well as the line edit. My editor, Patricia Peters, is simply amazing. Not only did she correct my grammar mistakes, she gave me her valuable perspective on my characters and plot as well. Writers should never consider self-publishing without hiring an editor. And there are plenty available online if you do your homework. Well worth the money!

What do I think is the most common mistake writers make when self editing?

Impatience is the writer’s biggest enemy. Many writers rush through their edits, and without bothering to hire an editor, they slap their manuscript up on Amazon for the world to see their grammar errors. Writing takes time. Unfortunately, our instant-gratification society pushes self-published authors to crank out as many books as they can possibly write. Rushing the process creates undeveloped plot lines and shallow characters. Rushing the process is responsible for self-publishing’s bad name.



About Ashley Farley:

I wrote a novel, SAVING BEN, in honor of my brother, the boy I worshipped, the man I could not save. It’s not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.

I’m a wife and mother of two teenagers. I have lived in Richmond, Virginia, for seventeen years, a city I love for its history and traditions. Personal experience with my brother inspired me to become involved with the leadership symposium in my son’s school where I’ve helped bring in speakers to raise parents’ awareness of the alcohol and drug problems children face. When I’m not steering volunteer committees or working on my next novel, I can be found swimming laps or playing tennis.





Today’s blog is part of the “I don’t like Mondays Blog Hop!” Check out the other participating blogs by clicking below.


6 thoughts on “Notes On Revision From Writer Ashley Farley”

  1. I like your three directions as you begin your revisions. Thank your for sharing your work. I quite agree with your comments about our society creating such demand for fast turnaround that we see a lot of sloppy and hurried work. I am always cheered to find out that I am not the last holdout for proper punctuation and the belief in good or even excellent writing!

    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree that people seem to be in a rush to get their work out. I know that I have seen a lot of self published works that could have used more time to “simmer.” I am eager to get my work out as well – like one of those kids with money burning a hole in her pocket:) What brings me comfort is knowing that if I take the time to put out my best work, it will reach the most people.

  2. These are great tips and I didn’t know about Alex. I’ve got to check that out. I always read my work aloud, but it would be helpful to hear it read by “someone” else. The font idea is great too. Congratulations on your novel! I hope “Legend Of a Rock Star” does see the light of day because I’d love to read it. Would you consider self publishing it in ebook form?

  3. Yes! Legend needs a lot of work, but because I can’t seem to completely forget about those characters, I may dig the manuscript out from the depths of my files and see where a revision takes me. I am working on another novel at the moment, Wrecked, a YA novel about a young man whose best friends is killed in a car accident during their senior year in high school. Sounds generic but there is a lot involved— crushed dreams, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, and involuntary manslaughter.

    You are so right about putting your best work out to reach more people. No one wants to read a novel with typos and grammar errors. At the end of the day, it’s not worth sacrificing your pride to sell more books.

  4. Thanks for the tips! I sometimes feel like I can revise forever, the biggest thing for me is walking away. Meanwhile I’m two years in and thinking maybe I should walk away 🙂

    1. Wow, 2 years. Before you walk away, I would ask myself if I am still invested in the story. Does the story still pull you in and get you excited. If so, then maybe you should continue to work on it. Maybe you need to have a few people read it.

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