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

TUESDAY WRITING TIPS – FIXING THE HOLES

The lure of gold can affect our objectivity

Last Wednesday, my goat, Molly got her head stuck in the fence…not once, not twice but three times. It’s not something she normally does, but she was lured by the bright yellow flowers on the other side of the fence.  She had to have them no matter what – her immediate goal got in the way of her common sense.

I sometimes think that this is what happens with writers yearning to get their work published. We are so focussed on the ultimate goal that we can’t be objective about our work – can’t deviate from what we are doing even though there may be a better way.

Molly getting her head stuck in the fence repeatedly also made me think about the fact that making the same mistakes over and over again (and not learning from them) is something that can hold our writing back. So how do we stop ourselves from doing this?

Here’s what I do:

I make a list of all the things I need to watch out for in my next draft.

  1. Are my characters interacting with the setting or have I just put description in?
  2. Have I made my plot too complicated?
  3. Have I developed my characters enough?
  4. Have I given my supporting characters different motives and focus?
  5. Have I used repetitive language?
  6. Has my character grown and changed during the course of the story?

Molly with her rebuilt fence. Unfortunately, fixing holes in manuscripts isn't so easy.

Although I ended up with blisters and was physically tired from fixing Molly’s fence, it didn’t take a great deal of brainpower to solve the problem. All I had to do was attach finer mesh to the existing fence and use fasteners to keep it in place.

FIXING HOLES IN MANUSCRIPTS

As I twisted and attached the wire, I thought about how fixing fences is much easier than fixing holes in manuscripts.

For starters, holes in manuscripts are much harder to identify. Here’s how I identify mine.

1.    Do a scene map identifying

  • Which characters are in each scene
  • The purpose of each scene
  • What my main character’s motivation in each scene is
  • Conflict in each scene
  • Whether the scene moves the story forward in the direction I want it to

2.      Once I have my scene map I compare it to my plot diagram and see where the scenes match up, and if it’s where they should.

3.      I look at turning points, the climax of the story and whether the resolution is strong enough.

4.      I look at whether I have left the appropriate clues for the reader – will they be hooked into the story all the way through?

In much the same way as the fence rebuilding, I hope to identify the holes and fill the gaps.

How do you identify holes in your story? I’d love you to share your techniques and experiences in the comments section of this post.

Happy Writing

Dee

P.S. Don’t forget to check back here for Friday Feedback and if you’d like to submit 150 words for feedback, email me Dee*at*DeeScribe*dot*com*dot*au

MY AMAZING MAY GIBBS ADVENTURE DAY 24

After finishing the first draft of Book One last night, today was a day for sleeping in and enjoying the sights of Brisbane.

A non-writerly friend, came to visit with her gorgeous little girl, Sophie and we spent the morning exploring the Roma Street Parklands, which really are a work of art.

Roma Street Parklands in bloom

So many places to explore, water dragons scuttling across in front of us, and garden beds out in full bloom.

It has been a while since I’ve had to stop at flowers so a little person can have a “shmell”.

If we could incorporate the innocence, wisdom and wonder of our children, I’m sure our writing would always be beautiful.

Children think with all their senses, it seems to be something that adults have to consciously remember.

After a lovely time in the gardens it was back to my “Brisbane Home” to work on my “From Portrait to Prose” workshop at the state library.

I’ve also decided that I can’t maintain so many blogs, so I have spent some time incorporating some of the features from my blog http://tips4youngwriters.wordpress.com into this blog.

I hope you like the new Want to Be a Writer and Writing Tips pages.

Now it’s time for reflection about draft one of my novel. As I move onto the editing tomorrow, these will be the things I’ll be looking out for:

  • Another friendly Brisbane local

    Holes/inconsistencies in the plot

  • Lapses in dramatic tension
  • Changes in writing style
  • Changes in voice
  • Telling not showing
  • Foreshadowing – have I left enough clues for the reader?
  • Places where the writing is dull
  • Places where I have given the reader too much information

Wish me luck! It’s a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.

Happy writing.

Dee:-)