As I work through my latest draft, I’m finding that most revisions suggested by my editor fall into just a few categories:
This doesn’t mean getting microscopic or drowning in minutia. Whatever I include must be relevant. In the example below, from my book, JURATA’S DAUGHTER, I’ve changed the description of thunderclouds to remind the reader of their connection to the god of storms and his lightning bolts.
Old version: Thunderclouds hung dark and grim over the courtyard.
New version: Thunderclouds loomed over the courtyard, pierced by jagged streaks of light.
Keep in mind that while sensory descriptions are important, action and dialogue (inner as well as outer) are details necessary to deepen our understanding of characters and enrich the overall storyline.
Action is followed by reaction, not the reverse.
Old version: Nyada cried out at the blood oozing from the Elder’s forehead. “Gods help us, she’s dead!”
New version: Nyada smoothed back the strands of hair hanging over Sister Saule’s forehead. Her fingers came away smeared with blood. “Gods help us, she’s dead!”
Even a well-structured story can suffer from events happening too fast, without a proper buildup. To slow down, it helps to focus on individual scenes. Each one has a purpose and needs to be developed fully. Sandra Scofield’s THE SCENE BOOK (link below) is the best book I’ve found for advice on crafting scenes with the basic elements: event/emotion, function, structure, pulse.
4. GOAL, MOTIVATION, CONFLICT
I was familiar with this concept, but composing a GMC chart for every character gave me clarity and insight. With a GMC printout to guide me, I’m less likely to have a character speak or act in ways that don’t ring true—no more “out of character” moments. More importantly, with GMC, your characters should emerge from the pages fully-fleshed and not caricatures. My editor recommended Debra Dixon’s excellent book, GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT (link below), and I can’t thank her enough. It’s now available in digital format.
There you have it. Four ways to strengthen revisions. I hope you find them useful.
Links to books mentioned:
Sandra Scofield, THE SCENE BOOK
Debra Dixon, GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION, and CONFLICT