That is totally relevant to my life, like, ALL THE TIME, it sometimes seems.
Because it’s tips for revision.
Here’s a highly condensed list (follow the link and read the whole thing):
1. No matter how much you may like a scene or a line, if it doesn’t serve the story it has to go.
2. Edit in layers, focusing on one thing at a time.
3. Make sure every character is acting with purpose, and not just doing what plot tells them to.
4. Do characters grow or are they the same at the end?
5. Make sure it’s dire. Make sure your protag has a lot to lose if they don’t solve their problem.
6. Make sure you have individual voices for all your characters.
7. We all have words we like to use or things we do that we know we need to cut. Hunt down the mistakes you know are there.
8. Make sure you switch smoothly and clearly when changing scenes, locations, and POVs.
9. Find a way to include [backstory] in ways that don’t stop the story. If you can’t, cut it.
10. Don’t be afraid to cut.
That’s the short version, like I said! I personally think everything here is important and also sometimes hard except 8, which offhand I don’t think I’ve had too much of a struggle with. Well, number 7 is not actually hard, but it is highly tedious. The Find command is your friend when it comes to taking out half those semicolons or whatever.
I think 3, 4, and 6 are the hardest because it can be impossible to tell whether you’ve actually done it or not. Especially in later revisions, you can be too close to the story to see whether your tweaks have got the job done or not.
That’s why critical readers are so important!
And it’s not just me, either. Even Caitlin (my agent, and a pro at editing), handed the most recent version of BLACK DOG off to a colleague because she felt a fresh pair of eyes would be really helpful. It’s very reassuring that this colleague saw almost nothing to mess with. Yay!
In case you’re interested, I will be cutting two scenes to speed them up, including the climactic battle. But evidently everything important is working at this point. Whew!
2 thoughts on “Here’s a nice post . . .”
Pleased to see that Black Dog is pretty much done, and looking forward to a publication date.
#3 is a problem for many writers, even experienced ones. Or maybe it is in the ‘putting it over’ to the readers. Which brings me to (IIRC) #10 on the original list, ‘trust your readers to get what you’re saying.’ i’ve been in WAY too many conversations about books where readers have diametrically opposed interpretations of what is going on. This even when the text is unusually clear. (Ok, that particular writer has a reputation for subtlety and pulling surprise re-interpretations of some apparently pretty awful actions, and the series wasn’t finished. Still…. ) You’d be amazed. You just can’t make everyone understand no matter how hard you try, and if you try too hard you’ll ruin the book, anyway. OTOH, what seems clear to the writer because the writer has been living with this plot and these characters for (sometimes) years, and doesn’t realize that what seems like spotlighting the snake in the grass with a bright light, and flares and looky-here’s is going to come across as a subtle hint to the reader without all that inside knowledge. This is where beta readers are needed, I guess.
It’s also interesting how different readers have completely different reactions to specific characters, as well as to huge plot issues. Like, one person who loved ISLANDS particularly loved the slower world-building part and commented that she felt too tense about what was going to happen when the action picked up (http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/2011/04/floating-islands-by-rachel-neumeier.html) . . . naturally I immediately noticed a review on Goodreads where the reader was bored until the action picked up and then enjoyed it.
The only solution is to just not worry about it and write the book you want to write.
Though that’s not an excuse for being lazy about editing and revision afterward, though!