Monday, November 28, 2011

Take a Deep Breath, and Revise

By Julie Daines

By now you should be wrapping up your NaNoWriMo projects. I finished my 50K over the holiday weekend. *Wipes Brow*

The next step - Revisions!

Here are a few tips on revising that work for me:

-Let it rest for a few days. A week or two is best, so the themes can percolate.

-Read the last two or three chapters first--without making any changes--and then go back to chapter one. We know our characters so much better by the end of a book--what the main conflicts are, themes that have emerged, the character arc. Keeping the ending in mind will strengthen the beginning.

-See my post on using a timeline to keep track of everything. You can do a lot of jumping around during revisions, and this helps keep things straight.

-Don't be afraid to kill your darlings. You may have written something awesome, but that doesn't mean you can't write something better. If it doesn't fit, it will only cause blisters!

-GET FEEDBACK! Critique groups, beta readers... anything. And listen. If you don't know what advice to accept and what not to, read this post on Storyfix.

-Ask yourself why? Why did my character think that? Why does this upset her? Why did he just say that? Most first drafts are lacking in interiority. Let the reader understand what motivates your character, and what it is that your character really wants.

What are some of your tips for revising?


phyllis sweetwater said...

this is a great tip from my editor: take all of the phrases "there was/is" or "it was/is" and rewrite the sentence to get rid of them. You'll be amazed how this improves the quality of your sentence structure.
P.S. I've got 7K words left to go for NaNo, not sure I'll make it!

Julie Daines said...

@phyllis You can do it. Just keep those fingers punching away at the keyboard. Write now, fix later.

Scott said...

I find it useful to print a copy and then use different markers to mark various problem words, like be words, filters, adjectives, and adverbs. It works best if I look for one thing at a time, and don't actually read. If I get caught up on sentences, I start to skim backwards. That keeps me focused on individual words and not the story or structure.