Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, October 25, 2010

Here We Go Again!

Revising Song of the Day: "Again" by Janet Jackson

As you all may know (b/c you are our loving and loyal followers) Pam and I have completed manuscripts. Pam has just finished her fourth round of revisions for Wants, and I am still teaching myself how to revise In Limbo (my beta reader...Pam, is working her magic now!). It is almost too perfect that we set in on a revision session during the SCBWI Mid Atlantic conference this weekend.

Andrea Tompa of Candlewick Press led an incredibly helpful and in depth session on what you should do after you complete your first draft. Although Pam missed a small portion (because she was getting a one on one manuscript consultation with Emily Van Beek from Folio Jr. -- a division of Folio Literary Management-- go girl!), we still learned lots that we want to share with you.

So, do you feel like this b/c you don't know how to revise/edit?

Don't worry, we'll help you out...
But we can't tell it all (copyrighting and all that) so we'll give you a brief synopsis in a few steps:

  1. Complete the first draft. (duh)
  2. Save the first draft as...well, first draft. Or you can use alphabets (my personal fave) for example, my first draft of In Limbo is called In LimboA. After Pam gives me feedback, I'll open a new document and call that In LimboB.
  3. Put away the first draft for a while.
  4. Take it out of it's hiding spot and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.
  5. Now while you look at your first draft consider the important questions that you learned in elementary school...who, what, where, when, why, and how.
  6. Ask yourself and make sure it is conveyed who your characters are, and why the reader should care about them, what is happening in your story, where and when is it happening, why does your character do what they do (what are the stakes) and finally how are you telling your story (what is the POV, do you have good voice, what tense)?

LAST STEP: Finally, complete a more thorough edit. Check your draft to make sure it is clear, consistent throughout, grammatically correct, straight to the point, and that all dialogue is believable, and not full of exposition.

With these steps, you no longer have an excuse. So, go...revise! I was inspired to go back to my first POS (piece of sh*t) Chasing Manson, after sitting through this session. I know it'll inspire you :)

BTW, please feel free to share any of your revising techniques that may have been left off of this list.


Holly Hill said...

One thing I *highly* suggest is after all your revisions are done to print the final MS in a different font. Read through it one last time and the new font will help you catch any little errors that may have been missed.

Aren't revisions fun? lol

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

great tips, thanks!!!

Abby Stevens said...

I love how y'all spell things out and make it look so darn easy if you just get started! Thanks for the inspiration, ladies!

And Holly, that is an awesome tip I'd never heard before. Thanks!

Melanie said...

POS - that is hilarious! It should be added as an official writing term.

Racquel Henry said...

Good tips...I'll apply those if and when I have a completed manuscript! Sigh! At my conference it was said by an agent that you should have a professional editor...huh??? I'll be discussing that on the blog soon! :)

Pam Harris said...

Thanks for the feedback, ladies! :) And a professional editor?? Please post about that--I hear so many different thoughts about this.

Amie Kaufman said...

I like the idea of naming them via the alphabet--it gives the impression there'll be a finite number of drafts!

It's so tempting to just dive right into revisions, but I think putting the MS away and letting it cool down is vital.