The Four-Step Revision Method - Writer's Digest

The Four-Step Revision Method

Step 1 of Raymond Obstfeld's "4-Step Method" to revising your work.
Publish date:

Revising can be daunting. There's so much to look for—pacing, characterization, plot, theme, style, etc. But don't worry just yet. Novelist Raymond Obstfeld explains how to make the transition from those early drafts that lay down the basic story and characters to the final draft.

In the latest issue of Guide to Writing Fiction Today, Obstfeld explains his four-step method for revisions in detail. Here's a sample:

Step 1: Structure

Goal: Develop a clear and compelling plot.

Trouble Spots: Too passive, talking-head characters; no plot buildup/anticlimactic action.

Remedy: Basically you're looking to see that events are in the right order and that, if they are, the scene builds toward a satisfying climactic payoff.

The passive/talking heads scene occurs when characters are sitting around yammering back and forth without adding any tension to the scene. They're called talking heads because what they're saying seems removed from any sense of characterization.

To find out more about structure and the complete four-step revision method, pick up a copy of Guide to Writing Fiction Today ($6.50).

Raymond Obstfeld is the author of Fiction First Aid ($16.99, pb).


Learn Better World-Building Strategies Through World of Warcraft and the New Shadowlands Expansion

WD editor and fantasy writer Moriah Richard shares five unique ways in which writers can use World of Warcraft to better build their worlds—without playing the game.


Seven Tips for Intuitive Writing: The Heart-Hand Connection

Award-winning author Jill G. Hall shares her top tips for how to dive into your latest project head-first.


Bearing vs. Baring vs. Barring (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use bearing vs. baring vs. barring on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


15 Things a Writer Should Never Do

Former Writer's Digest managing editor Zachary Petit shares his list of 15 things a writer should never do, based on interviews with successful authors as well as his own occasional literary forays and flails.


Evie Green: Imaginary Friends and Allowing Change

Author Evie Green explains why she was surprised to end writing a horror novel and how she learned to trust the editorial process.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing, Contest Deadlines, and More!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when.


Lenora Bell: When Fairy Tales Meet Reality TV

Bestselling historical romance author Lenora Bell discusses researching, avoiding info-dumps while still charming readers, and how her latest book was inspired by her life.


Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.