Category Archives: Revising

Dumbledore and Re-visioning

Today’s the day — the day I begin to re-vision a story I almost love.

Re-visioning is an exciting, interesting, daunting thing. It’s not just revising; it’s re-imagining. Re-visioning means looking at the heart of something and seeing new possibilities, envisioning a new, different, and hopefully better story emerging from the ashes.

Hmm, I can almost imagine Dumbledore peering over his glasses at me, saying “it’s about time, too…that story was looking dreadful.”

For me, re-visioning involves starting with a blank slate. You know how they talk of “killing your darlings” when you’re cutting stuff in the revision process? Yeah. I put all my darlings on the Titanic and said goodbye. Sigh. It’s scary, and a bit sad, but the hope of a stronger story I really will love gives me courage.

(Oh man, am I burning things or drowning them? I’ll just get all the cheesy metaphors out here in this blog post so they don’t show up in the manuscript, okay?)

notebookThis morning, I put an inspirational photo on my computer screen, hit “play” on some appropriate mood-music, and opened a brand new notebook to begin collecting my re-visioning thoughts.

That was four hours ago.

I missed my gym workout. I missed lunch. And I didn’t miss the old version of my story. I’ve got a TON of work ahead of me, but I’m good with that — I’m in the joyous and delusional this-is-gonna-be-great stage of story-crafting.

Hmm… Dumbledore also said, “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” So true, Professor, but for now, let me enjoy this stage. I promise not to choose easy over right when the time comes.

What stage are you in the midst of?

Have you ever turfed a finished manuscript and started again from scratch? Got any advice for me?

I’ll leave you with a hint of this novel’s setting and inspiration:




Taking the long road

Why does publishing take so long?

Because you might have to write five novels before you really, truly love one well enough to be TERRIFIED of sending it out into the world,

and because when you do send it out, you might, in some dark corner of your mind, harbour that rather silly hope that it might be snapped up – SNAP! agent representation, SNAP! book deal – even though you know this is statistically and realistically NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, which is actually a good thing because in truth, you need time to separate yourself from your words and the SNAP dream doesn’t allow for this,

pocket watch - public domain photo

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain.)

and because while you are waiting, waiting, waiting on the publishing process you will eventually take advantage of that time to re-fill your creative well, read amazing books, mull over shiny new ideas, and fall in love with writing all over again SO THAT

when the waiting ends (this round of it, at least) and you recover from the shock, you will BE READY and eager to tear apart that story you love and build it back up because you now know that REBUILDING IT will make it stronger and more beautiful and maybe, just maybe,

ready to step out into the world,

at which point you will suffer from empty-nest syndrome (among other anxieties) and begin the process all over again, which, if it happened too quickly, would completely overwhelm you and reduce you to a puddle of emotional goo on the floor.

So basically, publishing takes SO LONG because we all want to avoid cleaning up messy goo.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

(Okay, “sticking” may not have been the best word choice there, considering the aforementioned goo. See? This is why we need time to revise!)

Happy writing…:)

Fix-It Friday: the book rec edition

revision-tipsI decided to wrap up this blog series by asking people which books they’ve found most helpful when tackling revisions.  I’ve compiled the responses below. I hope there’s something here that will prove to be exactly what you need! (If your fave isn’t on the list, please mention it in the comments!)

Thank you again to all the awesome authors who shared their great tips for Fix-It Friday, and thanks to all who contributed a book recommendation. Happy revising, everyone! Have fun crafting your strongest stories possible.:)

Fix-It Friday: Nikki Tate

revision-tipsThis week’s Fix-It Friday tip comes from Nikki Tate, author of more than twenty books for young readers.

I assume I will re-write, revise, re-do, re-think, and reconsider everything I ever write. It makes me very, very nervous when a manuscript comes back with only a few suggestions from the editor because for me, re-working a piece of writing is so central to the process. So that’s part one of the tip: go beyond acceptance and embrace the opportunity to revise.

One of the most important questions I ask myself as I revise is, “Is this really necessary?” I ask that of each chapter, each character, each paragraph, and eventually, each word. Sometimes I write the same thing in three different ways, and asking that question forces me to get rid of the two unnecessary repetitions, even when they are both brilliant. Because of course, everything I write in every draft is brilliant. NOT!!

LOL! Nikki, I love both parts of your tip: embrace the opportunity to revise, and eliminate repetitive stuff. Great advice! Thanks so much.

Visit Nikki’s website or follow her on twitter.

Fix-It Friday: Joëlle Anthony

revision-tipsFix-It Friday is back with another great tip about trimming the fat…which seems super-appropriate as I begin to contemplate New Year’s resolutions, lol. But I digress. Check out this revision tip from Joëlle Anthony, author of RESTORING HARMONY and THE RIGHT & THE REAL.

When cutting, plan to go through your manuscript no more than twice. This will give you more motivation to stay on task and to cut ruthlessly. Whether it’s five thousand words or a hundred pages, setting a concrete goal for how much you want to cut allows you to work towards something attainable. Add ten percent to your initial goal if you’re feeling adventurous. Cut from every chapter!

Thanks, Joëlle! On task and ruthless…my new goals when it’s time to trim.:)

Visit Joëlle’s website or follow her on twitter.

Fix-It Friday: A.S. King

revision-tipsThis week’s Fix-It Friday revision tip comes from A.S. King, author of ASK THE PASSENGERS, PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ, EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, and THE DUST OF 100 DOGS.

My favorite stage of revision is the crazy chop-everything-out stage (also called Radical Chainsaw Shit).

The chop-everything-out stage requires me to chop 10% of the book. Period. I will usually do the math to figure out exactly how many pages that is and then figure out how many lines on a page I should cut from that number. Though this sounds strict and mathematical, it’s not. It’s actually more about trusting one’s gut and seeing recurring red flags for what they are. If there is nothing to cut for several pages, I do not force it. However, I may find two whole pages to chop and they will make up for what I didn’t chop elsewhere. Economy of words is something I love. Having the time to pare a book down, and then down again, and again, is one of my favorite things in the world.

This is an awesome tip! Lots of writers struggle with cutting hard-won words, so maybe adopting a “chop 10%” rule will give us the push we need to start up the chainsaw and go at it. Thank you!

Visit A.S. King’s website or follow her on twitter.

Fix-It Friday: Catherine Knutsson


This week’s Fix-It Friday revision tip comes from Catherine Knutsson, author of SHADOWS CAST BY STARS.

One of the first things I do once I’ve completed a draft of a story is sit down and write out chapter summaries.  My chapter summaries are a point-form synopsis of everything that happens in that chapter, from introducing characters, to setting, to sections of exposition.  That gives me a snapshot of which chapters are doing a lot of work, and which ones are a bit…lazy, or exposition heavy, or dialogue heavy…or (horrors!) have nothing significant happening in them whatsoever.

However, recently, I’ve decided to tweak this a bit.  What I’m now planning to do is adapt Cristin Terril’s Revising-By-Colo(u)r  for these chapter summaries — so, taking highlighters to them!  Because, highlighters!  Colour!  And also, when I’m sorting through things and rearranging, marking up the summaries will be an easy visual way to see what chapter’s doing what sort of work.

Happy revising!

I love this tip! Thanks, Catherine. I do my chapter summaries on index cards. But this…this is awesome. I mean, index cards and highlighters? What’s not to love? (Why yes, I am an office supply geek. How did you know?)

Readers, does this sound like something that would work for you? Have you tried something similar?

Visit Catherine’s website or follow her on twitter