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