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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Summer Smackdown Bonus: Beat Sheet

Hopefully you're still plugging away on revisions even though the Summer Revision Smackdown is officially over!

One of our awesome Smackdowners, better known as dirtywhitecandy, has generously offered to share one of her revision tools with us: The Beat Sheet, an at-a-glance revision blueprint.

(Incidentally, "dirtywhitecandy" always reminds me of the time my friend and I almost let her brother eat a piece of "candy" [a.k.a. ice rolled in dirt]. Good thing we saved him at the last minute...but I digress.)

I asked Roz to share with us her best revision tip as a final SRS bonus:

Everyone seems to agree that before you revise, you should take a break. Some people like to forget about the novel altogether, but I think that's a mistake.

You need to use some of the downtime to rebuild your relationship with your novel.

Straight after finishing the first draft, your enthusiasm will have taken a battering. Some of it wasn't as easy to write as you hoped. Some of it bored you. Parts of it don't work and you know it.

The dread of seeing those failures again outweighs the fun of what went well. You can't revise in such a negative state of mind.

So let your novel woo you all over again. Read books that remind you of it so you rekindle what attracted you to the story overall. Watch films with similar themes. If you listened to music while writing, put those tracks on while going for a walk or driving. Let them wrap you in the story without you having to create anything. Slowly, you'll see once again why you fell for it.

When you feel like nurturing your novel again and can forgive it for not yet being perfect, you're ready to revise.

Thank you, Roz, for sharing your tip and Beat Sheet!


  1. Great advice, Roz! Totally the same experience for me when I take a break. I'll be trying the Beat Sheet out!

  2. Thanks for this interesting twist on the advice to "set the novel aside." I know I often get re-inspired by reading books similar to my work-in-progress.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Realm and Carmela!