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Friday, April 8, 2011

The Revision Freak Out

I’m in the middle of revising my YA sci-fi novel, which means sometimes I look like this:

Like when I re-read a passage and I actually love it. Or when I’m sucked in to my own story. But most of the time I look like this:

Usually I stare at my revision to-do list and have a minor freak out because the draft sucks and I’m not sure I’m capable of reworking it the way it needs to be reworked. You know when you stare at the last five chapters and think they’d be better off in the trash? Yeah, I’m there.*

And it’s not that the words themselves bother me. It’s the fact that those words in those paragraphs and in those scenes don’t quite belong in that order. Sigh.

So I’ve been working through my revision notes methodically, attempting to ignore the crazy amount of yellow comments in future chapters. It’s kind of like ignoring an itch when someone tells you their house has bedbugs. Which is to say, almost impossible.

But because I’m not overwhelmed enough, I decided to follow all of the tips Donald Maass tweeted last month. And of course they’re all awesome. And of course following them will make my manuscript better to the Maass degree.

I won’t list them all here since I’m guessing most of you have seen them, but I wanted to point to a few that have inspired changes in my story so far.
#14 In your climactic scene, what are 3 details of place that only your MC would notice? Cut more obvious details, replace with these.

#18 Give your MC passionate feelings about something trivial: e.g., cappuccino, bowling, argyle socks. Write his/her rant. Add it.

#26 Whom is your MC afraid to let down? What is the sacred trust between them? What would cause your MC to break it? Break it.

#30 What’s the worst thing that happens to your MC? Work backwards. Make it something your MC has spent a lifetime avoiding.
How do you revise? Do you have any tips to add to these?

Also, a huge congrats to my friend Erin Bowman who just sold her YA trilogy! You can read the Publishers Marketplace blurb on her blog. (Sneak peek: It sounds amazing.)

*Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way...

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