Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Ugh! Not again." It's the writer's lament. Faced with yet another rewrite are you wondering where to begin?

Writer's Wednesday is focused today on the revision process.

Okay. You've just left your critique group or gotten feed back from a friend, spouse, etc. If you're lucky they had some specific suggestions to offer, but often as not the response is a vague, "It needs something, but I'm not sure what." Great! You probably already knew that. Now what?

Before you take pen in hand and bleed all over your manuscript, ask yourself these questions.
  • What is the theme? Jot down your answer in five words or less: Love conquers all, There's no place like home, Friends make life worth living, Believe in get the idea.
  • What is the premise? State what your story is about in 30 words or less: A Kansas farm girl is transported to a magical world where she teams up with a scarecrow, tinman, and lion to battle an evil witch and find her way home.
  • What is the arc for each of your main characters - protagonist and antagonist? Keep your answer short. One or two sentences per character should be enough. Remember this isn't about what they do. This is about who they are and how they change over the course of the story. Often it is about self-realization, but it doesn't have to be a change for the better, particularly with the villain.
  • What is the blurb? Write a brief summary, about 100 words. This is your contract with your readers...a promise of what they will find within the pages of your book.

Keep this information front and center as you re-read your story. These answers should inform each scene. Is the writing true to at least one of these points? Ask yourself, "So what?" Descriptive narrative and colorful dialogue are great, but do they also move the plot forward, develop characters, address conflict?

Notice the ways in which your story may have evolved and be open to the changes. Has a minor character taken on more importance? Have subplots disappeared or new conflicts emerged? Correct or eliminate the weakness and embrace the strengths.

Most important of all...believe there is an end in sight!

Check out the interview of first-time author, Elizabeth Eulberg at Cynsations. She offers some wonderful encouragement for writers struggling with the revision process.

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