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.

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





Are You Giving Up Your Rights to a Print Edition?

Publishers Weekly just ran an article about contracts and book formats that affects anyone looking for a traditional deal.

Agents (most speaking anonymously) are concerned that contracts will soon come with clauses that make no guarantee on format. In fact, according to agent and e-book publisher Richard Curtis, that’s already the case with big houses that are releasing e-originals.

For a new author, this can hit hard. Traditional publishing royalties are generally higher for print as opposed to e-books. That means less money for you.

But unless your contract stipulates otherwise, a publisher can test a digital version of your book before deciding if it’s worth investing in print.

Since I expect to be going the indie route, this isn’t a big issue for me. However, if I were looking for an agent, it would be huge. Why sign away my rights when distribution may be limited?

What are your thoughts? Would you sign a contract that doesn’t guarantee a hardcover or paperback edition?