The Art of Revision

"Writing is rewriting," the adage tells us.

But how—literally—do we rewrite? How do we decide what to leave in and what to take out? How do we determine the scope of a piece, especially where to start and end? Do we edit line by line, paragraph by paragraph—or make the professional leap of re-structuring first?

During these two afternoons, we'll learn how enlightened writers edit their work. We'll practice revising short, existing texts. (There's no need to have generated your own material for this class.) And given the overlap of fiction and nonfiction, we'll learn professional revision techniques that apply to both.

As usual with the Amsterdam Writing Workshops, there will be no criticism issued in this class. Instead, there'll be instruction, inspiration, and editorial advice. The driving force of this weekend: learning to take command of your words on the page—new ways to shape, craft, and improve your own writing.

All levels welcome.
Non-native-English speakers welcome.


  1. “My expectations were to learn some techniques and 'rules of thumb' that I could incorporate into my writing now, so that the revision process would be much more efficient.

    Not only were my expectations exceeded with
    the quality of advice and the techniques,
    but I received ENERGY and MOTIVATION to
    work on my writing.”

  2. “...Insights and well-explained revision processes - a wealth of useful information relayed. I found the handout to be well structured, and it covered all the major revision themes. There was also an exchange of ideas and discussions on these processes - something that helped give the workshop a life of its own.”

  3. “I didn’t know what to do next with my work. I was stuck. I was in a mood of self-criticism and self-doubt. What the hell did I write? This class helped me get out of that mood. Thank you!!!! I was able to move on with my piece.”

  4. “The course captured my attention the entire eight hours. All questions were answered in a considered and thoughtful way.

    What was missing from the experience? I can't think of anything. I've always found that cookies help me think. ;-)”

  5. “Thank you for the instruction on The Art of Revision.
    The material covered in the class met my expectations and has been very helpful in my efforts.”

  6. “It was an eye-opener that revision can be done systematically. I was glad to hear of other revision techniques that I'm now already using! I also feel that it’s beneficial to hear about other people’s revision problems, because they are mine, too.”

  7. “What did I learn about writing during the class? For starters, some new ways to look at revision, of course. I also picked up a few things about my current writing style.

    The hand-out is nice to have for reference after the workshop, when you start revising your own texts.”

  8. "I really thought the content of the Revision Course was excellent. I learned a lot about how to make a revision plan. I'm appalled that I've never encountered this idea before...amazing.

    The hand-out is always a wonderful added bonus to the worshop. There's a lot of material not covered over the two afternoons that I can use as inspiration later on.
    Thanks so much."

  9. “How will the experience impact the way I revise text? Revision is an opportunity to go deeper into each character, into the details, the setting….”

    “The surprise was that the way I thought about revision process roughly matched the class.”

    “The hand-out information is very organized and useful--contains practical suggestions.”

  10. Marie-JeanneJune 16, 2013

    “What did I learn about the revision process? To treat text like a car and fix mechanical problems.”

    “The course made revision a faster, easier, and more technical process.”

  11. ChristienJune 16, 2013

    “What did I learn about the revision process? – Most importantly, to first examine the context before doing anything else. Also, that revision is not only about cutting, but definitely also about adding – the "unpacking" of ideas.”

    “How will this experience impact the way you revise text? – The metaphor of being a car mechanic, of getting "under that car" and applying tricks of the trade to make the car/text work, will really help me to revise in a more systematic manner, with a 'healthy detachment' and more confidence (I will be less afraid of making radical decisions).”

  12. “Among other things, I learnt that there is more than one way to revise, and you can use multiple revision techniques on the same text if you choose to.”

    “The hand-out is very elaborate and helpful. And it’s good to have a reference to come back to later. The one-page summary is also a great tool.”

  13. “It was another great workshop. I have already been implementing some things and definitely it has changed how I approach a revision. I thought the handout was excellent, and full of helpful tips and examples… I am looking forward to seeing the upcoming season of workshops and hope to be able to attend another one soon.”

  14. “The workshop has changed the way I look at my own writing and the writing of professional authors. When I read novels, I will now watch for the techniques we discussed during the workshop… Most important, this workshop has given me clear direction. In my opinion, that is the best a two-day workshop can do… I liked the teaching method. It was very direct and sometimes confrontational. I thought it was effective that students were challenged to substantiate their criticism, making it impossible to blurt out random and obtuse critiques… Overall, I’m very positive about this workshop. It was a good first step toward turning hobby into profession.”

  15. “I now have a plan which allows me to look at different aspects in my writing without having to revert to chopping up every single sentence… Thank you for creating a safe environment, as always. And thank you for being open, for being helpful and, more than anything, for turning me back to my work.”

  16. “One of the main points I took away with me this weekend was how to more effectively use praise and criticism when revising. Instead of reading a piece of writing and declaring - "Wow that was great!" or "Goddamn, that really sucked," I learned to change those declarations into "That worked well" or "That didn't work well." Once these were identified I learned how to grow and nurture what did work well and how to weed out what didn't… What I learned this weekend will help me to view my writing with a more objective eye.”

  17. “The workshop was thought provoking, motivating, and the message was well delivered. I was glad I was able to come!”

  18. “This workshop provided me with practical techniques, tips and details about how to revise my first draft, and my second and third, until I reach a manuscript that works. In addition to generating and creative part of revising a manuscript, I also learned many useful details regarding the publishing process…Thank you for helping us and guiding us to become better writers: this is beyond valuable, and I am very appreciative.”


If you have taken this workshop, please send us your feedback here.