Thursday, October 21, 2010

Re-visions : Part 2

I'm late posting today. Thursdays I volunteer at my son's school library, which is so great having access to all the kid lit.  Still, the most popular I see are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson series, Lemony Snicket.

But that's not what I want to discuss today. I saw a cool quote the other day (wish I'd have written it down) about how an author's real writing is in the revision. It's so true. I've revised my story Float so many times now, and it gets better each time--which makes me wonder if you're ever really done. Sometimes, you just gotta step away and move on.

So the second round of revisions should provide you with a more seamless feel to the story--finally you're weaving it all together and tightening the loose threads.

Check for:

Scene structure
Character development

This second time around is when we should be focusing more attention on individual scenes. We should have a story world so real that the page disappears. We can transform dull settings so that there's more mood and tension. Maybe there's a scene where not much happens but at the time you wrote it, it helped the story flow. Cut it. We have to learn to see which scenes can be cut because nothing's really happening. Another reason why beta readers/ CPs are so valuable.

Maybe your MC spends too much time alone, or you don't have enough cliffhangers at the end of your chapters.

Here's a good checklist for beta readers:

1. Does story move fast enough to hold readers' attention?
2. Are there any summaries that should be developed into scenes or vice versa?
3. Need to add any foreshadowing?
4. Actions of characters make sense?
5. Is time passing in a clear, understandable way?
6. Each scene have setting details?
7. Does each scene raise the stakes?
8. Are characters consistent?
9. Any long introspection in need of trimming?
10. Does dialogue match characters' vocabulary, intelligence, emotions?

I got these questions form one of my trusty writing manuals and I find them so helpful.

On a lighter note, there are a couple of contests for pre-published writers happening!

For YA writers:

And Miss Snark's Baker's Dozen for both YA and Adult:

How cool is that?? I participated in Miss Snark's Secret Agent contest this month and it was extremely helpful. I got some great feedback on my first 250 words, and while the secret agent didn't request any partials from me,  she did remark that the writing was good and and the subject matter interesting.

What about you? Anything to add to second round revsions?


Kathryn said...

I found a Vonnegut quote that I mentioned on my blog about a month ago that I thought rang true:

"Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action."

Sentence by sentence, people. It's gruelling work, but it's worth it!

It's so great when you can see the improvements from draft to draft, but you're absolutely right - at one point, there's absolutely nothing more you can do, and you need to just step back and let it be.

Quinn said...

See, I don't know. I know that writers have to revise and that our works get better through revision, but I don't think I can agree that an author's real writing is in revision. I'm not trying to be pompous or anything here, but I put a lot of work into my writing the first time around. I'm not saying it's perfect and I know that I can make it better. But I did real writing that first time.

I just thought of a good analogy (at least I hope it's good). Let's look at a cake as writing. I make the cake. It's good, but it could be better. So, I shave some off to make it level and then frost it. Then I add decorative touches. All that stuff is the revision. Revision is the icing on a writer's cake, but the cake on it's own can still be really good.

Actually, now I think I want to write a whole blog post about how writing is like baking a cake. Haha!

Having said all that though, I like the tips and advice you give. I'm beginning revisions now, so this was really good to read.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I try to add tension and emotions when going through my novel the second time around. I want to make sure that my story is compelling and relateable.

Melissa said...

These are great questions!

I have to say, that I agree with Quinn though.. I too put a lot of real thought and effort into a first draft, sure my story can be a lot better but I think writing is both the initial draft and then tweaking it to perfection.

Pk Hrezo said...

Great points! And I love the cake analogy. I put a lot into the first draft too.... but that's the creative part. The real craft of it comes with the revisions when I tweak and polish.

Xander cross. said...

Great list Pk! And thanks for coming by my blog!

LTM said...

this is awesome--thanks, girl! Right where I am~ :o)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a good checklist list for the test readers!

Florence said...

Great post, PK. Quinn as an old fashioned baker, I can tell you that the first time around might be a pretty good cake ... but. Instead of thinking you need to mess with that one. Think instead that what you need to do is perfect the recipe. Most of my first cakes were eaten by my family.

Most of our first books collect dust in a drawer. Like anything else, baking, sex and writing ... the second time around is always better ... and then better again.

Oh, sorry to digress ... the quote was from Hemingway who said he didn't write, but he rewrote. Of course, he was also famous for so many revisions that the first day he picked up a printed manuscript, he immediately found a dozens things he should have changed.

I don't think I have a "method" and I don't believe most people can say their method could work for everyone.

You have a good start of things to remember. Use them as a guide and not a bible or you might run into what I think Quinn is worried about. You might muck up the core or the heart of the story.

Have a great day :)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Some very good advice. One of the things I enjoy about revisions is getting to know my characters better and better. They usually reveal things to me that weren't real clear in the first draft. Love it when that happens. Nice post.

Rachael Harrie said...

Hey PK, great advice (love the tips for beta readers). And thanks for your contest links - think I might enter :)

You're doing Sacha Whalen's Mentorship program too aren't you? And I recognize your name from Quinn's blog. Anyway, nice to meet you!