Revision

Revision Guides

We can only hold so much information in our heads.  Thank goodness for paper and pen!  I am an inveterate list-maker, and offer the revision guide as a helpful tool for collecting thoughts and steering revision. The revision guide is a catch-all, holding our vision for the next draft and a list of changes that …

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Others’ Eyes

The fastest way to see our writing with fresh eyes is to look through the eyes of a reader.  Established authors might profess that they don’t reveal their work to anyone until it’s done, or complain about writing workshops producing works created by consensus.  But writers who are still learning the craft need exposure to …

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Revisiting the “So what?” Question

“So what?” Insidious, persistent, biting, the simple question is a brain-bug infecting every writer I’ve ever met.  It gnaws at our confidence.  It stops our pen mid-stroke.  It’s a plague infecting whole classrooms—whole cultures, even, undermining the generative instinct because it assumes a vacuous answer.  There’s no justification for creative work, it seems. And it’s …

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Removing What’s Not Story

I’ve just cut fifty pages from a polished, 400-page draft—that’s one-eighth of what I’d considered a completed book.  What was in those pages?  A few scenes that slowed down the plot, a lot of unnecessary dialogue, whole paragraphs of exposition, and hundreds of extraneous words extracted from too-long sentences.  Everything I cut was not my …

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Sifting

My daughter, who is almost a year-and-a-half, has discovered the joys of sifting sand.  She shovels it into the colander and watches, fascinated, as it streams through, leaving behind the pebbles which she promptly puts in her mouth. After completing a draft, a writer’s task is to construct a new colander, a tool strong enough …

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