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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SRS Smackdown Spotlight #3: Molly Blaisdell

This week, Brimstone Soup is proud to feature fellow smackdowner, author Molly Blaisdell. (And don't forget to check out CuppaJolie's Smackdown Spotlight, Kelly Holmes of YAnnabe!)

Molly has written over 20 books for children, including the picture book Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs, and has some truly brilliant novels in the queue (lucky me, I get to hear them first in our writing group!). Molly's keen insights have helped to sharpen my writing, and they will sharpen yours, too. You can visit Molly at her blog, website, and follow her on Twitter.

I asked Molly for her best revision tip, and here's what she had to say:

Clear out the calendar and read your manuscript in a 24 hour period. The whole thing. This is a hardcopy exercise. Print the whole manuscript on paper and make sure it is single spaced and in a different font than the one you normally use. You want to retrain the eye to see your work in a fresh way. As you read, keep a handful of rainbow highlighters nearby. Mark the flaws in the manuscript with nifty color coding. I mark typos pink. Stuff that doesn't make sense gets marked orange. Stuff I've got to delete is blue. Stuff I've got to move is orange. Stuff that is awkward or needs better wording is yellow. Stuff that I need to add to is green. Yes, some sections get multiple colors.

What is the advantange of this slow moving, thankless task?

I can then thumb through the manuscript very quickly and see where the problems are. I can see if there are problems in certain sections or huge global problems. I also know what kind of problems are plaguing my manuscript and exactly where. This method also reveals what is working. If pages lack color-coding, I am a happy camper.

I have done this exercise, and it is eye-opening - especially when combined with Darcy Pattison's Shrunken Manuscript technique. Thank you for the tips and the continued inspiration, Molly!


  1. Timely advice! I'm going to try it out this week!

  2. I'm very much looking forward to that big print and that tall pile of ms pages to be read all at once. Thank you for the idea of making it colorful, Molly! At first I was thinking, maybe I'll do that for those places I know aren't strong enough, but I can see how incorporating all needed fixes (in color)
    could really be helpful.