TUESDAY WRITING TIPS – REVISING – Some Technical Tips

January was  very productive  for me.  I spent the entire month immersed in revisions for my young adult verse novel, Hating Ric.

This is the one I’ve been working on for my SCBWI Nevada mentorship and I’d had lots of great feedback from my mentor, Ellen Hopkins with suggestions on how to make it better.IMAG4962

I’ve added an extra 15,000 words, developed my characters, altered my setting and I’ve even managed to bring two black bear cubs into my story.

During the revising and editing process I discovered a few things that worked for me so I thought I’d share them here.

1.  I printed out the entire manuscript and read it. I find that when I read on screen my mind doesn’t seem to absorb things in the same depth. So I pick up superficial things like typos and vocal, but I struggle to see the overall story problems or pick up character inconsistencies or weaknesses.  I find I need to hold paper in my hand to get close to my characters.

2.  This book has two main characters so I looked at each character’s story arc and rearranged the pages according to flaws I found in the plot – where the tension wasn’t rising and things seemed to be happening in the wrong order.  My mentor was also great for pointing out where these kind of changes needed to be made, and where she didn’t think a scene fitted.

3.  I opened up two new files – one for each of my main characters – and I wrote new scenes for them – scenes to develop their characters – scenes to develop the setting – scenes to create rising tension – scenes to add layers of meaning.  By writing the scenes separate from the story, I was able to create them with fresh eyes and make them lively but relevant.  I printed them out and slotted them into the appropriate places.

4. I checked through my mentors comments and suggestions to make sure I had incorporated the changes that fitted with my vision for my story.

5.  I did a spell check.

6.  Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 10.04.00 PMI did ‘find and replace’ to change certain words. And here I admit I ran into trouble. My character changed from being a rower to a basketball player. So when I did “Find rowing and replace with basketball”, it changed ‘growing’ to ‘gbasketball’. Thanks to my clever writerly friend, Thalia I learned that there is a remedy for this. Tick the ‘find whole words only’ box in the ‘find and replace’ option in Word.

7.  I saved my document as a PDF file – imported it into iBooks and read it on my iPad as an e-book.

8.  I attached it to my email and pressed ‘send’.

I’m sure there will be plenty more work to do on my manuscript, but I feel that now I have a practical way to handle those revisions and edits.

I’d love to know any technical tips you have for revising and editing. Feel free to share them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing and editing:)

Dee

My mentorship experience was made possible thanks to the generous assistance of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund which provided me with Creative Industries Career Funding. http://www.copyright.com.au/cultural-fund

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12 thoughts on “TUESDAY WRITING TIPS – REVISING – Some Technical Tips

  1. Hi Dee, wow, you have had a productive Jan. I’m not long home from Port Fairy so I’m really just starting to get back into it. I too prefer to print out my work to edit and I also like to take it somewhere completely different to read, like a park or the library. Pretend I’ve never seen it before and that I’m reading it for leisure 🙂

  2. Thanks for the tips! I definitely agree that having a manuscript on paper makes finding flaws much easier. The only tip that I have that your post didn’t cover already would be to remember that you can’t make it perfect, and to stop yourself from obsessing over the small things.

  3. Hi Dee,
    I agree with your tip to print out the ms. Somehow it tricks your mind into reading differently because it looks different. Writers Digest have an excellent online seminar on revising by James Scott Bell. From that, I developed my own editor’s marks for ‘condense’, ‘expand’, ‘reword’ and ‘delete’ that I use on the first on-paper read-through, so I can get all the way through pretty fast but not forget my first impressions.

  4. Thanks Rhiannon, that’s a really good tip too. It has to be the best that it can be but you can certainly over tweak a manuscript – and once someone decides to publish it, there will be more changes anyway.

    Dee:)

  5. I like the way you explained that Alison – it’s exactly the way it seems – that it’s a different manuscript. The editor’s marks are a great idea – and I use post it notes too – different colour ones for different things.

    Dee:)

  6. I picked up a tip from a writing workshop with Kate Forsyth and that was to use highlighters during the edit. It worked great for me to highlight action sentences v descriptive sentences. This allowed me to go back and edit the obvious voids of description. Then I could also change passive descriptions into action sentences when it suited.

  7. I like # 8 most! Well done, Dee!
    While revising, I run a check searching for “thought” verbs (think, know, understand, realize, believe, want, remember, imagine, desire). They all get chucked from the ms as they tend to create a distance between the reader and the characters, and add that dreaded feel of telling. Next, I eliminate all protagonist + sense verbs (watch, look at, see, hear, listen, feel). Same story as the “thought” verbs. No need for them in an action-packed novel.

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