Thursday, March 13, 2014

Revision Tips from Authors for Authors Post 2

Hi everyone! I hope you're enjoying these great revisions tips from some of my clients so far. Today I will be posting tips from two more authors. I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful!  

Look out for Post 3 next week!

Erica Chapman, YA contemporary:

I've heard from several sources that good writing comes in the revision stage of building a book and I have to agree. I do love the idea of getting words down in a first draft, but when I can manipulate those same words to really mean something--really make someone FEEL something, that's when a revision is working for me. There are a few questions I have to answer in each revision, here are a few...
  • Continuity errors - If you have flashbacks, do they make sense? Is the timeline right?
  • Transitions - Are the ends/beginnings of the chapters and scenes smooth? Does the reader always know where they stand?
  • Are the words in my story being used correctly - Like, "Microscope for Telescope"
  • Does each character have goals? Are there enough conflicts keeping them from them?
  • Does your MC have a choice of what to do to get to their goal? Can they leave and go back to regular life (life before the inciting incident) and be fine? If the answer is yes, then add in some type of conflict that changes that. If the answer is no, then you're on the right track.
  • Is everything authentic? - Do the actions of each character make sense? Does the plot make sense with how you've shaped your characters to be?
  • Do the sentences sound like they should? - I agree with Annie from an earlier blog post, reading out-loud helps find those words and sentences that are awkward.
  • Are the characters' actions physically possible? - Act them out and see.
After my CP's or readers send their feedback, I like to let it sink in for a little while. Maybe a week, two weeks, or so. Then I read through their notes all at once and see if I answer "Oh yeah! or Wow, how did I not see that?" those are edits I make right away. If they've brought something up that makes me think but that I may not have an answer for at the time, then I keep those on the back burner and when I read through my MS again and revise I think about what the reader noticed and see if I notice it too. Usually, they're onto something. I always weigh each comment the same whether I agree or not because there's a reason they noted it, and maybe I can address it in a way that fixes the issue the reader had but also keeps the integrity of the story the same.

For revision, the best thing I've learned is to take step back and read the story as I believe a reader would. It's not easy, but when I do, I find the most errors that way. Happy revising!

Suzanne Warr, Middle Grade:

Lord of the Rings cake: The Eye of Sauron!
When I get revision notes, whether from myself, my CPs, or my lovely agent, I like to take a step back and look at the book as a whole.  Think of this as envisioning the cake you want to set out before your party guests.  There are lots of delicious kinds of cake in the world, from Angel Food cake to Chunky Apple Oatmeal, to Triple Chocolate Lava, to Maple Pecan.  No one cake can be all of these—if it tried, it would wind up a disgusting mess!  So, what kind of cake are you making, or what kind of story are you telling?

Once you’ve got your eye firmly fixed on that deliciousness and can see the big picture for your story, look at the notes and organize them by type.  Are they integral to the plot, indicating a fundamental flaw in its development?  Did you drop out of character, or forget to detail a scene?  Think of plot issues and other big ticket items as the stage where you take a sample taste of your cake, to see if you forgot the salt or didn’t mix in the baking powder properly.  Thankfully you can rework your story more easily than you can bake a cake from scratch under deadline, but it can still seem a daunting task.  However, at the end of the day, these are fundamental issues you want to fix before ‘serving’ your cake!

Other issues may be more superficial, and can be thought of as the icing and decorations.  Impatient writers may see these as less necessary, but where would a wedding cake be without white frosting and gorgeous wedding trim?  And what about a Triple Chocolate Lava cake if the last layer is the shaved chocolate curls?  You don’t want to leave that off, right?  So, when reading through the feedback, picture your book as you most want it to be—something that fills the heart with delight, and wows the socks off your readers.  Then figure out how the notes you’ve received can strengthen and complete your story, helping it to take the cake amongst novels!


  1. I like your list, Erica! Good reminders of the things we tend to overlook. Great post, and thank to Christa for hosting us!