FIVE MAVEN WRITING TIPS FOR OCTOBER –REVISION

The Mavens

  Revision, taking another look and polishing your writing. Here’s what the Mavens have to say– from what it involves to when to stop:

Judith Ross Enderle: This part of writing is the frosting on the cake; cleaning up the crumbs, adding swirls of sweetness, getting your masterpiece ready to present for consumption. Revision shouldn’t be rushed. It may involve any or all of the following: major rewriting; moving sentences, pages, paragraphs, even chapters into a different order; tossing out some of your favorite lines; the realization that in some parts you have too much story and in others not enough; and always a careful search for repetition, double verbs, awkward dialogue tags, and phrases at the end of sentences that don’t add anything to the story. If you’ve been away from the manuscript long enough, you may see places where you’ve forgotten to give the reader important information, places where you go on too long with either dialogue or description or both, places that are too slow and places that just plain don’t work. Your first draft was good, but with revision your second draft will be better, and after that you will revise for the best. Some manuscripts need only one revision, while others may need five or more.

Stephanie Jacob Gordon: I NEVER REVISE said no published author ever.

I think of revision as a trick of the trade.  My trade.  Your trade.  The Writing for Young People trade.

You write your story and suggestions abound.  Everyone has a better idea.  Your agent has input.  Your editor has input.  Your writing group has input.  Your best friend, your husband, your kids, your mother, the check-out lady at the grocery store, they all want to tell you what is right AND what is wrong with your story and how to fix it.  You listen, smile, nod your head, think about what they said, good and bad, even take notes.  It is YOUR story, nevertheless.  Apply what works, clarifies, enhances and improves your work.  In the end it really is just YOUR story and you must stand behind your craft.  So, what to do with the stuff you don’t need?  Shredders, compactors, garbage cans (do people still use cans?), and recycle bins were invented to hold suggestions, critiques, and opinions you do not want or need.   Hear, think, apply, but listen to your own head first!
Happy revision…or not.

Laurie Knowlton:   7 Tips to Revision, Where to Begin?
Once you have completed your manuscript it is time to revise. But how?
Read your manuscript out loud.
It will help you catch gummed up sentence structures.
It will help you listen to your character’s speech for uniqueness of voice.
Check and cut: overused words, weak words, and too much description.
Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you have trouble with these there are how to articles on the internet that can help.
Bring your manuscript to a critique group. Fresh eyes can help you see your manuscript in a new light.
Ask yourself does my story question match a satisfying ending?
Let your manuscript set for a bit after you have completed these steps, then go back with fresh eyes and review again.
Revise as many times as it takes to get it right. DO NOT RUSH the revisions process.

Cheryl Zach: Revision is an absolutely necessary part of the writer’s process. Once the rough draft is down, if you’re lucky you’ll go over it and then have a critique group or partner to share it with, in person or on line. If not, put it aside for a few weeks or even months and then view it with a fresh eye.  Of course, you want the grammar and usage to be correct, allowing for realistic dialogue. Books such as Elements of Style are helpful. A lot of my revision goes into tightening. Taut writing is often most effective. Get rid of unnecessary tags, (the he said, she said bits) unless you write for the very young. Remember you want to show, not tell. Use action and dialogue, use sensory details to make the setting vivid. Let your own voice shine through. Then put it aside, and do it all again. And again.

Dawne Knobbe: Revision: You know it is time to stop revising when the words you replace are no longer making your sentences more powerful.

 

 

FIVE MAVEN WRITING TIPS FOR SEPTEMBER – STUCK?

The Mavens

STUCK?  Don’t panic! This happens to lots of writers, sometimes in the middle of your book and sometimes as you struggle to revise, following your critique group’s suggestions or while working through the feedback from your editor. Breathe!

Here are some tips from the Mavens on how to get unstuck:

Dawne Knobbe: Stuck? : Eat cookies, make paper airplanes out of you manuscript. Not helpful? Try picking a fight with your main character.

Cheryl Zach: Stuck? Me, too. Okay, not this minute, but I have been, lots of times. Early on in my career, I’d often get off to a rousing start and then get stuck about a third or even halfway into the story.  It usually meant I didn’t know my characters well enough–pause to do some deep thinking about who your main character is. Look at your supporting characters; maybe one or more need to get in the way–they have their own plot lines to pursue, remember. Perhaps your conflict isn’t big enough to support a novel. Maybe this is the time to introduce a new character, or a new obstacle, or make the conflict harder in some way for the protagonist. Go back and look at what I said about a sagging middle.

If you’re stuck on a new project, ideas are all around you. Make sure you spend time with young people. Read lots of good books, and not just in your chosen genre. See good movies and plays. After viewing The Darkest Hour, I reread William Manchester’s multi volume bio of Winston Churchill–what writing! Go to museums and other cultural events, go outside to parks and the beach and the mountains, whatever is near you. Feed the well. Exercise. It helps the brain function. Meet with other writers and artists. And don’t be too hard on yourself. The Muse will return.

Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton:  5 Ways to get beyond Stuck

Go fill your well! Do something new to you. The experience will get your senses awakened.

Walk and talk. Take your phone and walk and talk (recording) yourself through questions about your story question.

Spend time volunteering with the age group you are writing for. Listen to their jargon. Watch their mannerisms. Be aware of what they are worried about. Observe what they get excited about. Ask them about what concerns them.

Sit and read a starred review book. Analyze what makes it work. Is the story character or plot driven? What is the heart of the story? How does the main character grow and change?

Meet with a critique group. Being around other writers who are producing can be contagious. Also other writers may be able to help you get over the hump in your manuscript.

Judy Enderle: Unstuck tricks to try:
Stay calm. You may feel as if you are sinking in quicksand, but if you were it would be best to keep cool, to ease back and float until you reach solid ground. Same with being stuck in your writing. Sometimes floating for a bit will help you get to solid ground and go forward.

Ask your character what to do next. Write down all the possibilities then choose what makes most sense for your story.

Brainstorm with your critique group. Many heads might help you find a good solution.

Skip the place where you are stuck and start writing again at the place where you know what will happen. You might figure out what to do with that stuck spot or perhaps realize you don’t even need the place where you are stuck to make your story work.

Stephanie Jacob Gordon: Ask your dog; dogs are good listeners. Take a walk (your dog will like this, too. Eat chocolate. Have a cup of tea and biscotti and pretend your main character is there with you. Read the KidsBook Mavens blog for some good ideas. Most important: DON’T GIVE UP!