This is Day 6 of the Why Not? series.
“Why Not? Day 6 Revise Your Story. Go Ahead” by Joan Y. Edwards
- You’ve written an article/thesis/story/poem.
- You’ve chosen the shortest snappy captivating title.
- You’ve developed a catchy pitch/hook/story concept
Let your work rest in a drawer or in your computer for three days if it’s an essay for high school or college, a newspaper article, or short story to one-six months for a novel or screenplay. Letting it rest will give you a fresh look when you get back to it. When your writing’s rest period is up, you’re ready to revise it.
I recommend that that you revise it three times yourself before you take it to a critique group. Sometimes when I’ve gone to a critique group too early, I heard their voices and not my own. Let your gut feelings about it be your guide.
There are many ideas to consider in the revision process. I’ve broken it down into proofreading and revision. To simplify things, I list the ones that are most important in your first revision.
Print out your manuscript with one inch margins and double spaced.
I consider proofreading part of the Revision process.
Read the manuscript aloud. Derick Wilder, a writing peer and member of SCBWI, says if you read it backwards, you may see mistakes and hear mistakes you might miss.
- Correct words that are spelled wrong.
- Correct punctuation.
- Correct grammar usage.
- Vary sentence structure so you don’t put your reader to sleep.
- Change passive voice sentences to active voice.
Read, Study, and Revise
- Is your title still the best possible one for your story.
- Does your pitch show the emotional concept of your story in two-three sentences?
- Does the manuscript contain descriptions that would be better as dialogue? For instance, do you tell how Jane and Dave are always at each other’s throats when it would be more interesting to read dialogue using words that make you feel like they’ve slit each other’s throats.
- Is there backstory that could be deleted from the beginning and placed at the exact time when the reader needs to know that information to understand the story?
- Does your story have a beginning with a problem, a middle in which the problem gets so bad that the protagonist has to make a change or all is lost, and a satisfying ending? Does your protagonist solve the problem on his/her own power?
- Do your characters actions and reactions invoke emotional reactions to your readers? Katherine Ochee suggests that you write what you feel rather than what you know. Are your characters believable in the world you created for them?
- Chuck Sabunchino suggests making a chart for a picture book with the following headings: character, action, dialogue, feeling, and visual. You could do that for a short story or novel, too.
Resources about Editing/Revising
- Chuck Sambuchino. Writer’s Digest. “6 Tips for Revising Picture Books:” http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/6-tips-for-revising-picture-books
- Dave Hood. “How Should You Revise a Short Story:” https://davehood59.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/how-should-you-revise-a-short-story/
- Holly Lisle. “How to Revise a Novel:”https://hollylisle.com/how-to-revise-a-novel/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Characters Must Show Growth and Change: Interview with Sarah Maury Swan:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/characters-must-show-growth-and-change-interview-with-sarah-maury-swan-au
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Get a New Perspective When You Revise Your Manuscript:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/get-a-new-perspective-when-you-revise-your-manuscript/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Get Rid of Passive Voice.” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/get-rid-of-passive-voice/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Goodness! How Could I Have Submitted That Manuscript?” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/goodness-how-could-i-have-submitted-that-manuscript/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Look for Four Writing Errors When You Revise:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/look-for-four-writing-errors-when-you-revise/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Sounds of Words Bring Characters to Life:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/sounds-of-words-bring-characters-to-life/
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Stop Boredom: Vary the Beginnings of Your Sentences:”
- Joan Y. Edwards. “Vary Your Sentences: Begin with a Different Part of Speech:”https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/vary-your-sentences-begin-with-a-different-part-of-speech/
- Katherine Ochee. “Eight Awesome Steps to Revising Your Novel:” https://writersedit.com/eight-steps-revising-novel/
- Reedsy. “How to Revise a Novel: Step by Step:” https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-revise-a-novel-step-by-step-guide
- Roane State.Edu. OWL.”Revision Checklist for Essays:” https://www.roanestate.edu/owl/essayrev.html
- Stephen Koch. Writer’s Workshop: https://www.amazon.com/Modern-Library-Writers-Workshop-Paperbacks/dp/0375755586
- Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. “Revising Drafts (of College Papers):”http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/revising-drafts/
Other blog posts in the Why Not? series:
- “Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3t0
- “Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3u1
- “Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead:”
- “Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3wG
- “Why Not? Day 5 Write a Pitch. Go Ahead:”
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Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards
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