Home    |     Bio    |     Books    |     DBAW Tour    |     News    |     Press    |     Events    |     Contact

Friday, June 05, 2009

Summer Revision Smackdown: Revision Report #1

It’s time to report in! The good, the bad, and the ugly. Really! We want to know how it went.

We’re one week into our first ever Summer Revision Smackdown, so let’s celebrate our successes and help each other over any hurdles.

Today and tomorrow you’ll check in HERE. Tell us exactly how your week has gone. What went well? What didn’t? What revision progress did you make this week?

On Monday, Jolie and I will announce our WHIP OF THE WEEK. Should it be you? Let us know why. We won’t be looking at quantity, but more at progression and successes and a make-it-happen attitude.

Remember, we’re in this together, Whipper Smackers! This is the accountability portion of our program—the reason you declared your intentions to revise in June, yes?

So…tell us! How’d you do?


  1. Okay-I knew this week would be a wash due to end of the year things going on for my preschool. I DID jot notes, and do what Kirby Larson suggests. Lots of walking and thinking about characters and plotting. I expect this to help out when I am actually able to sit down with the WIP.
    Shelley S.

  2. It was a good week for me!

    - I revised one of my top-secret picture book projects which is no longer top secret because I took it to a critique group and shared it with two trusted friends.

    - I also wrote a huge chunk in my WIP (almost 7K words in a week).

    - And when it was too danged hot to move forward, I eliminated almost 300 "justs" and "reallys," following the WIP tips.

    - I also resisted temptation in the form of one compelling and persuasive Holly Cupala/Shopping Monster.

    Not every week will be this good, obviously. But I'm happy with my progress.

  3. I finished revising five chapters. Hopefully I'll get more done this weekend!

    Now to throw in some temptation--you've won a copy of Graceling!

  4. Not much. Fleshed out the ending chapter outline into actual words. That's about it. I'm hoping to do major overhaul when work ends.

  5. This week, I:
    * Finished reading my first draft.
    * Started a plot board to see where I'm not pulling subplot threads thru (just 7 chapters left).
    * Made a list of revision "to dos".
    * Started an AWESOME revision book called Write Great Fiction: Revision & Self-Editing. Highly recommend to everyone!
    * Came up with my game plan for what to tackle next: 1. Sort my list of to dos in order of biggest structural edit to smallest line edit. 2. Start tackling my list at the top, i.e. most structural. Try to do one to do per "session". 3. Continue adding to my list as I think of stuff, and repeat until I can't go no more!
    * Lots of thinking and rethinking of subplots and character backgrounds. How many subplots is too many? I don't know if there's a right answer to that, but I think I might have too many. :(

  6. Kelly, I was at a conference where Michael Stearns (my fabulous agent) said one function of subplots was to masquerade your main plot so your readers can't see all your workings. So I don't think there's an official answer, but maybe if it's not helping you build tension/mystery/elegance in your structure, it's a subplot that can go.

  7. --Revised up to page 100 on my current WIP focusing on the structure and expanding each scene.
    --Reshaped and jotted down notes about what's at stake for my female character and her conflict with her Fahter--character motive!
    ---Had a key scene looked at by a critique partner and revised more based on her suggestions
    --Week one was good!

  8. Pin a rose on my nose because, no joke, I DOUBLED my goal for the week!

    Here's one way to get a lot of revision finished:

    1. Have a long to-do list of other stuff that doesn't seem as fun as (*ahem*) drawing.

    2. Have Holly and Jolie give you a permission slip to slack off on that long to-do list by working on revising that dummy you love to work on.

    3. Take up drawing. I think it was Kevan Atteberry who said at the conference, "what artist walks in their studio and says, shoot I think I have to draw today. Bummer." Certainly not this one. Drawing is what I do to procrastinate on other stuff.

    Thanks for the permission slip, Holly and Jolie.

    Now. I have a dusty to-do list of other stuff that REALLY needs to be tackled today.

  9. Well I bombed this week, because I got a job! Which started on Wednesday and ends Monday. An illustration job, so that is great and I'll get paid which is awesome.

    I did get about 50 books from the library for research help with my revision smackdown projects and look forward to being on task for next week so I can qualify to be a whip of the week someday.

  10. It went well this week!

    -Got my latest revision done and sent off for first book!

    -Got 20+ pages done for the second book. I got very into it and excited to write more!

    -I got two illustrations done and one mini-comic, but I am supposed to do three a week. I need to crack more on that.

  11. Shelley S: you still moved forward, and that's something - esp in the midst of preschool (believe me, I am with you...having a preschooler myself). You're going to rock it next week!

    Martha: Shame...I'm wallowing in the shame of tempting you - and yet you prevailed, and helped me to, too! I nailed those 100 pages and then some, to the tune of...let's see...approaching 140... When I touch you, you make the sound, "tsssssss."

    Vivian: Yay! You're giving those chapters the what-for. Thank you for the book!

    Beth: You're bringing actual words into the world, and that's a huge leap forward - something from nothing. Keep going!

    Kelly: A "tsss" to you, too! I love what Martha (and Michael) said about subplots. I kind of do the same thing as I write, and as I revise I find the ones that stick rise to the top.

    Mindy: I love your thoughts on what's at stake for your character. Excellent revision, girl! Keep at it - you're inspiring to all of us!

    Kjersten: A rose for your nose, voila - I'm glad our permission could help! That happens all the time for me - getting permission to do what needs to be done. Love your work, and the inspiration will follow!

    Jaime: You bombed not! Job - woohoo! This, I'd say, is a victory worth celebrating! And high-five for using the SPL up to its full potential. You're going to fly next week!

  12. Realm: Talk about rocking the graphic novel world...that's you. Thank you for being an inspiration to us this week!

  13. So far, I'm on target for my goal of working on revision 2 hours/day, 6 days per week. However, I'm falling behind on my page goal. My novel is set in the 18th century, so I've been sidetracked researching historical details that affect my plot.

    Good news: I think I have the answers I need, at least for now, so I'm hoping to gain some momentum when I get back to actually revising the manuscript (hopefully tomorrow).

  14. Wow! These reports are so much fun to read. And inspiring! I love hearing (from several of you) that the tips our writerly friends have been sharing have helped. If week one is any indication, it seems this whip of a smackdown is turning into a success. yes!

    Kelly, I'd love to see what your plot board looks like or how you go about it. I also keep a revision to-do list. I received great advice from Laini Taylor in regard to my bulleted word doc. She said, put each to-do on an index card, that way you can eliminate cards and watch your pile grow smaller and smaller!

  15. My goal is to work on revisions 3 hrs/day, 5 days/wk. My youngest son was sick one day this week, and I just didn't get the hours in. That just means one of my 5 days will have to be on the weekend, though, so hopefully it'll still be Week One=success!

  16. http://benjaminjameswatson.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-summer-revision-smackdown-progress.html

    But to summarize, it's been a good week for me and I feel the momentum building. Starting a blog and getting all excited about that hasn't really helped. BUT, am doing pretty good staying on my writing schedule. And that's huge for me. Struggling with chapters but not writing, if that makes sense.

  17. I'm on fire.

    This week I've revised three of my picture books and whittled them down from 800ish words to under 500 each. "Spare text" are the buzzwords du jour.

    Now I must tackle my WIP novel and determine whether it should be shaped in the YA or MG direction.

    Keep on keepin' on, everyone!

  18. Well, I engaged in a plate-clearing smackdown, which will be ongoing for a few more days. In spite of this, I did a first round of June revisions to the PB MS, took out a bunch of unecessary words, thought deeply about the POV, and procrastinated by trying to do an Illustration Friday piece, which I didn't finish. Ate good watermelon, fanned myself, was grateful for a studio that resembles a grotto.

  19. I feel good about things, but my progress pales in comparison to what some of you busy Smackdowners accomplished!! Mostly, I engaged in prep-type administrative tasks, but that's where I needed to live this week.

    -I have two mss needing revision, and I narrowed the field to ONE.

    -I made a digital photo album of landmarks and nature scenes from the book's real-life setting.

    -I implemented a few minor changes I'd marked months ago and then updated the ms template to reflect the fact that this mg chapter book for reluctant readers is getting turned into an at-level mg novel.

    -I created a physical revision notebook and an electronic revision file, complete with a new chart o' current ms stats & chapter-by-chapter notes/goals.

    -This morning I combined Chapters 1 & 2 after clearly seeing (thanks to having so much space between the initial writing and revision process) that the reason I was having so much trouble with the first several pages was because they needed to say bye-bye.

    Main hurdle this week and every week (and I know everyone identifies!): making time to work on this while keeping up with my full-time freelance work and other obligations (including fun summer stuff).

  20. I had a great week! I accomplished the following:

    - Made it through my entire novel, "first draft" revision. This included more filtering of events through the main character's perspective, more transformation of all major characters from beginning to end, several major new scenes.

    -Made it through the first 9 chapters, "second draft" revision: sharpening descriptions and dialogue, word choice tweaks, expanding scenes (I tend to rush).

    I'm right on target for finishing a "third draft" revision by next Saturday!

  21. I'm getting some great ideas from everyone!

    Jolie, I'll try to remember to take a picture of the plot board when it's done. :)

    Martha & Holly, thanks for the tips on subplots!

  22. What an insane first five days of June! Work was extra intense this week with three classes of icky assignments (essays AND presentations)to grade. Little League games (I had my laptop out at one!), swimming lessons,a dance presentation, meetings, and a wedding anniversary made finding quality writing time a bit challenging. Oh yes, and I was hit with a bout of SOUPUC Syndrome; I just HAD to clean out the refrigerator. Interestingly, I think I found a new life form in the vegetable bin (but that's another story).

    I did manage to work every day so far on my manuscript. I'm not sure where I stand on my four pages a day goal. I forgot which page I was on when I started. I do have 7,892 words (30 pages) now. I plan on getting at least 10 more pages over the weekend.

  23. I am so behind.

    I had two "grownup" writing deadlines this week, which slowed my ability to dig into the revision task/s. But the good news is one mini-story is out, and one book review is off to the journal editor tomorrow morning.

    (I've been doing my best to pay attention to spare words though.)

    Hopefully by Monday I will be able to decide which 2ndary character to cut from PB1 and, thus, be able to dive into the revision/s on that one.

  24. This week was beyond hectic for me, so I revised in my head as a way to unwind when I could snatch a few moments. It won't win an award, and I didn't expect much this week, but I feel better. Who knew? Revision is a form of meditation.

  25. I could use a whip of encouragment.

    I had a 'some weeks are like that' week.
    I write early in the morning, so I can be at work by 8:40. But I'm not the most reliable sleeper. And this week, because it was hot, we had windows open and the dog got all excited by sounds and scents and barked a lot. sleep suffered mightily.
    So I didn't get up at 5:00 to write very often.
    I'm thinking about the Lunesta Butterfly.
    I'm also thinking of a plan to work PT next school year so I'll have more time to write.

  26. I loved reading everyone's comments. It's just amazing to me how writers work and how everyone follows his/her own process.

    Got tangled in the whip and tripped! HARDLY met my goal of writing for three hours each day. I was lucky to push in one hour each day (I was on a rare vacation with husband and ended up reading more than writing---many back issues of The New Yorker harkened me--good news is that I'm totally inspired). I'm revising my goal to a simple "I will write or work on novel everyday" since three hours is a tall order. Gots to rememba: quality, not quantity!

    Okay, so what was accomplished this week? I reworked a chapter and started doing some sketching of how I want a relationship between my character and another character to evolve. I'm at the point in the novel where I'm having to step back and start drafting a summary of where I want to go in the story. I feel a little lost, and this will help me get found! So, this coming week will involve some much needed mapping of the novel.

    I'll be in the car for four hours this weekend and look forward to thinking about the story while driving. I'm gonna slide in my playlist for the novel and hopefully, that will inspire some productive thinking. I'll have my notebook with me so that when I reach my destination, I'll jot what I can on paper.

    I look forward to another week of the smackdown! Love that there's a community of writers here who make this whole process feel less isolating.

    Hope everyone has a great week!


  27. It was a decent week for me, but it could've been better.

    I tweaked the plot, came up with a bazillion different routes to take the storyline, and got a bit more drafting in. I'm still in a very funky spot.

  28. Hi folks. I'm going to flip a whole book back to third person this month. I wrote it in third person, flipped it to first person, and now I'm going to flip it back because even though I know interesting things happened in first person, I feel I've gutted the soul of this book. I'm not going back to my third person draft though. I'm writing another third person draft. This has been a difficult decision to make. I'm praying it is the right one. Molly

  29. I've been revising two WIPs this week spending a few hours on one and hopscotching back to the other. Had an "aha" moment concerning my protagonist (I said to myself, hey self, if it's a story involving magic why can't I step out of the box?)and a love interest. Otherwise my week went well, feel good about the direction these stories are headed (finally). I think I'll be more productive if I leave reading email until later in the day. That's on the top of my list for next week:)

  30. Wow, this is an incredible response - we're so excited to see all of this revision momentum! It's certainly inspiring me.

    Carmela: Kudos to you for keeping on target and forging ahead! It's important to have that processing time, too - you're doing revision work even when you're standing still.

    Shari: Oh no, I hope your son is better - nothing like a little one's illness to take your mind out of a project. Good for you for pressing onward. Let us know how it's going for you!

    BJW: Aha, now I know who you are. I'm pretty sure we met at last year's WWA conference at the wine & cheese reception. It's awesome to hear of your success this week! Wrestling with the chapters is part of the process...

    Amy: Woohoo, I'm on fire to hear about it! Sounds of hissing flames coming from your general direction.

    Jennifer: Smack that plate, and keep cracking the whip on those revisions! You're doing important, valuable work.

    Lisa: Yes! You're rocking this week! It's such a fascinating process, to begin to see your ms from a whole different pov and be able to make needed changes. Keep at it!

    Helen: You got me all inspired by your head start when I saw you at Julie's BBQ party - wow, already through a draft. You're on fire!

    Michèle: You're not letting SOUPUC and Little League get you down...live long and prosper! (Who was it who said SOUPUC sounds like a viable Vulcan name?)

    StinkyLulu: You're kicking those spare words to the curb! Great work, getting your words out there, and let us know how the 2ndary character works out.

    Julie: You've already rocked this week with a book launch, Baby! (She-Smoke: A Backyard Barbeque Book). I love the thought of revision as meditation.

    Annie: Here's a whip, with a side o' love. Get some sleep this weekend and get your groove back. Hugs.

    Stacey: Whip, trip, and do a double-flip! Sometimes filling the tank with The New Yorker is exactly what a person needs to find exactly that right piece of inspiration to help you find your way. We'll look forward to hearing how your productive thinking time works out!

    Maya: In some ways that stage is so exciting - all of the different ways a story can take you to The End. Give your mind and heart a break, and your characters will eventually tell you their own path. Let us know how it goes!

    llt: Hooray for aha moments - they're fuel for the revision fire! Yes, I definitely agree with giving up email for periods of writing time. When I was nearly finished writin the 1st draft of the novel I'm revising now, I gave myself wireless-free days. I was astonished at my productivity - no less than 5K words in a day. Amazing how much of a time-suck email really is!

  31. And Molly! I am so proud of you and how you continue to plumb the depths and pursue the call of your heart. You inspire me.

  32. I did enough revision on my early chapter book this week to realize that it's really an early middle grade. Turned over first three chapters to my writing group yesterday. And even though I'm not an outliner, experimented with this new way of plotting out my novel that I found really useful (thanks to Peg in my writing group). Onward!
    (I also managed to go see the magnificent Terry Gross at the Paramount on Friday.)

  33. This is really cool to see everybody working so hard for their goals. It sure inspires me to get my heiny (how do you even spell heinie/y?) in gear.

    And yes Holly i think we did meet. I was the one passed out on the floor who got in a fight with the wine and cheese bartender. No wait, that was my brother.

    Must feel good for you and Jolie to see how motivating this smackdown is.

  34. in the eleventh hour of week one, i can report partial success on finishing the final art for page one of my graphic novel submission. three pages to go, plus a redraw of my cast of characters and a light manuscript revision. my goal is to send art plus a revised ms at the end of the month!

    so this week's goals are to finish page one and two, and start the ms revision. thanks for the support and inspiration. with you all behind me, i know i can do it!

  35. Holly! It's like you've become a literary e-Dr. Phil!
    But no, you have an identity all your own, and it's wonderful. I am so impressed that you are giving all of us individual responses.


    p.s. my verification is ovelist. I think that'll be my new identity as I don't quite feel like a novelist yet.

  36. This is so fun to see how everyone is working! It feels like our own revision-a-thon. I love it!

    I feel like I've got a whole team of cheer-leaders rooting me on and I also feel like a valuable member of that same team rooting everyone else on, too. It's great! Thanks Holly and Jolie.

  37. Ah this past week...does thinking alot in your head and jotting notes count? Forgot that the school play and the auction finals might overtake revision attempts. I am hoping for a better week.

  38. The shame! The shame! Instead of revising forward, I revised backwards this week! I can't even claim it was an aberration. I often intend to move forward, but spend all my time polishing the previous week's work. I do vow to have chapter four done and ready for CPs this week, however. After that...who knows? My agent let me know today that I have a revision request on another MG. So, as soon as I have the details and a direction, I will change gears and set this book aside to work on the other. Sigh. And my house is messier than ever.

  39. I'm reporting a tad late, but I did pretty good. My CP and I created a goal of swapping 8-10 revised pages a day for the month of June until we're through. Woot!

    I changed plan about mid-week, so I didn't get through those last 50 pages as I previously wanted, but I did get through most of them and went back to the beginning to start this swap.

  40. Hi--
    So great to read about all this progress! I am late reporting in due to my daughters high school graduation over the weekend. I survived the event and the festivities including 60+ family and friends in my back yard!
    However...last week before things got crazy I finished the first draft of my non-fiction proposal. And I made good progress on the latest revision of the biography I'm writing.