How to revise & resubmit: Getting started

The dreaded and sought-after R&R. It’s a thousand times better than a “no,” but a million times harder than a “yes.”

Let me explain… R&R stands for “revise & resubmit.” It’s what an agent asks you to do when they see loads of promise in your manuscript, but it’s just not quite there.

If you’re lucky, they’ll give you a few pointers on where you can improve. If so, you’ve hit a gold mine… But it’s still a long, hard road.

I received four R&Rs between the months of September and December. Two provided a few paragraphs of extremely helpful – and yet still somewhat vague – feedback. Two just said “good, but not great.”

So after receiving these revision requests, what do you next? How do you deconstruct the agent’s feedback – or lack thereof – and apply it to your manuscript? Where do you even start?


I asked myself these same questions. Well, actually I asked the Internet but quickly found that there is a sad dearth of information/advice on R&R requests.

So I approached it blindly, and after 350 hours of brainstorming, cutting, tweaking, writing and crying, I decided to share my experience with you in a blog series containing five posts.

Each post will focus on a one of five main aspects of my revision process. Five aspects that I believe will address  and strengthen 99% of your manuscript’s weaknesses as well:

  • Part 1: Identifying and balancing your plot lines

  • Part 2: Pick up the pace

  • Part 3: Getting the most out of your characters

  • Part 4: Adding tension and context

  • Part  5: Fixing your mechanics


Yes, each of those topics correspond to a colored tab placed in my manuscript – pictured to the right. That was not a coincidence.

But before we dig into fixing those aspects, here’s what you do first:

Print the latest draft of your manuscript. Do not do this on a computer! It will not have the same affect.

Then carefully read every page, and take notes as you go.

Stick a tab anywhere you see one of the above problems: your plot lines get muddled, your pacing slows down to the point of boredom, your character could use a little extra depth, your interactions need a little more context/tension, or you see a chunk of text that needs to be cut.


I’ll go into more detail on identifying and fixing those issues in the coming blogs. Once addressed, your manuscript will shine and you’ll be confident when sending your new draft back to agents.

First up, no one wants plot lines fighting against each other for the spotlight. I’ll explain how to identify your main plot and balance it against sub plots…

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