FOUR GUIDELINES FOR REVISIONS

As I work with editors, I’m learning a few strategies to guide revisions. Here’s a brief rundown:

  1. DETAILS

This doesn’t mean getting microscopic. I have to justify whatever I include, consider its relevance. It helps to ask two questions: Why here? Why now? (Actually, these are terrific questions to ask about every part of a story.)

  1.  LINEARITY

Action is followed by reaction, not the reverse.

An example from my book, JEWEL OF THE GODS:

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 cried. “She’s dead!”

  1.  PACING

I have a tendency to write lean, which can make for a rushed telling. I’m learning to slow down and look deeply into my story. Every scene 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 ensuring your scenes contain the necessary elements.

  1. GOAL, MOTIVATION, CONFLICT

I was familiar with this concept, but composing a GMC chart for every character gave me clarity and insight that really helped me stay on point. 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. One editor recommended Debra Dixon’s excellent book, GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT (link below), and I can’t thank her enough.

There you have it. Four easy steps to help with revisions. I hope you find them useful.

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Links to books mentioned:

Sandra Scofield, THE SCENE BOOK, A Primer for the Fiction Writer

Debra Dixon, GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION and CONFLICT: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction

Thanks for reading!

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