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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Revision Smackdown: You Tell Us!

We've had quite a lineup of Smackdown Spotlighters, Whip Tippers, Lash Flashers, and Whip-Snappers this month (for the full lineup, check out Jolie's full roster and mine), but the time has come, Smackdowners, for YOU to tell US:

What have you learned about revision this month through your own process? What's YOUR best revision tip?

Jolie and I can't wait to hear about the wisdom you have gleaned from leaping fearlessly and passionately into the mystery of the writing process--and we hope to feature your tips as the summer continues. So come on, tell us. We're all ears!

Then, check in tomorrow at Jolie's blog to make your case for the WHIPLASH AWARD!


  1. Don't be shy, everyone!

    I'll tell you something I've learned: every revision is different, depending on the needs of the story.

    What have you learned? Or are you too busy madly revising for the WHIPLASH AWARD check-in tomorrow? ;)

  2. Hi Everyone, Well, my work right now isn't exactly like a traditional revision session since I am turning a screenplay into a novel. My main goal is to get a novel draft done; however, my inner revisionist tends to come out and I have changed words, fleshed out characters, and even tightened up the plot some. Since I am essentially rewriting something, I have the opportunity to see the strengths and weaknesses as I go.

    When I am done with my draft, I do plan to go back and revise some more.

  3. Thanks Holly and Michele. Each revision is indeed different and it is cool Michele how your story tells you so much more as you tighten, tweak and poke at it.

    Let me tell you a story.

    When I was young, my grandma had a beautiful Steinway baby grand piano. Stunning. But the sound was, even to me who knew nothing, moving.

    I plunked and prodded at it, picking out a rough Star Wars and Twinkle Twinkle until my grandma had enough and brought out some Bach sheet music. Particularly one of his inventions, Allegro Vivace (I thought that's what it was called but think that's just how you're supposed to play it, duh, "play lively")

    "Play that," she said. So, I started.

    I didn't know how to read sheet music but taught myself a system that worked well enough for me.

    And I slowly worked out the beginning. Every single time I messed up, I'd go back to the beginning and start again. You can imagine what happened.

    I grew very strong at playing the beginning. Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, duh, dah, da, da, da. Especially my right hand. Then less so the left. Then together.

    And I kept starting over. Every single mistake.

    Finally I knew enough to impress people who heard. They thought I could really play the piano. But I could only ever play the beginning, of one song. And that's all I ever learned.

    And so it has been with my perfectionist writing as well. Not being patient enough to write badly and slog through to the end. Instead, trying to perfect as I go, start back at the beginning whenever something isn't good enough.

    I got away with it ok in writing picture books, but writing a novel has exposed me. I am a perfectionist. I'm actually decent at revising, because that's what I'm always doing. But it KILLS my creative momentum.

    So I have been learning this lesson for a while now, but especially this month, I've been trying to get it down and dirty. And not cleaning it up, yet (And it KILLS ME!).

    Forward momentum, not fixing stuff as much as possible, and a consistent work schedule will get my long-suffering novel actually FINISHED! No shortcuts, no tricks. Butt in chair. One draft at a time. Then perfect the hell out of it.

    It may not be revising tips, but this is what I've learned. Please forgive the novel length. But having other people rooting for you and keeping you accountable has really helped me. So thank you so much. Sorry it's so long. AGAIN.

  4. Real "revision" tips...

    I read it aloud to myself. I Have somebody else read it to me. Even my computer can (mac).

    I also just look at my story without reading it. I see where the flow is bogging down just by how bulky sections look. Just visually I get a pretty good idea where I'm writing insecurely, ie, over-explaining, passive verbs.

    The sections that i really don't WANT to revise, or avoid, are the exact ones that need the MOST revision. Every time.

    And finally find writers I respect who are willing to take a look.