We know time is in short supply, so each day leading to Christmas, we’ll offer 5 simple, smart tips on an important topic to writers, helping with craft enhancement, revision and social networking!
Today’s Stocking Stuffer: Honing your mad REVISION skillz:
1–Draft first, then revise. Revising while drafting is kind of like trying to decorate a house while it’s still being built. How can you figure out what changes need to be made until you can see the whole thing? You also run the risk of never finishing your draft because you can’t stop tweaking it. Get the story down on paper before you even think about serious revisions.
2–Make a list. Once you’ve gotten feedback from your critiquers (please get feedback from critiquers), make a list of the changes you’ll be making. I like to divide mine into three sections: big picture items (things that need to be reworked through the whole story), specific items (changes in certain chapters/sections), and regular items (problems that I know I have and need to watch for in every book I write). Order your list and hop to it.
3–Read your Manuscript Aloud. Reading aloud forces you to read more slowly, so your eyes see what’s actually on the paper instead of what you meant to put down. It’s also easier to hear those repetitious words that need changing, repeated sentence structures, phrases that need smoothing, or anything else that just doesn’t sound right.
4–Let it Sit. After a round of revisions, you’re probably so familiar with your story that you can’t see any more improvements to be made. Or you’re just plain sick of it. So put it away. Don’t look at it for three months, or six, and work on something else. When you come back to it, you’ll have gained the distance to see it clearly and the energy to do what needs to be done.
5–Resist the Urge to Finish. Sometimes we get so excited to finish a story that we declare it done before it actually is. It may actually take three or eight or twelve revision/stew rounds before a book is ready for publication. I also believe that no book is ever really finished because no matter how much you revise, improvements can still made. So don’t aim for ‘done’. Aim for excellent or spectacular or some other word that will tell you when you’re good to go. Mine is fabulous. If I can’t say that a story is fabulous, it needs more revision.
**Want MORE on the topic of strengthening your writing? Visit Angela over at the insightful blog, Adventures in Children’s Publishing for a guest post on Honing the Writer’s Intuition.