Friday, March 4, 2011

Resources for Revision

To follow up on my series on novel revision, here are a few other great resources.

Doug Eboch, Sweet Home Alabama writer, has lots of great posts on his screenwriting blog and many of the techniques he covers apply to novels as well. Spend some time exploring and you’ll find lots of gems. In terms of revision, I especially like this one on how to make romantic scenes (or any quiet scene where characters are getting along) tense. Check out his posts on structure as well. (You can view every post by clicking on the first link here, and then scrolling through the list of topics down in the right-hand column.)

Writers Digest has an online article on 4 Techniques to Fire Up Your Fiction. It includes prompts from literary agent Donald Maass on how to dig deeper into your scenes and pump up the intensity.

Cheryl B. Klein, senior editor at the Arthur A. Levine imprint of Scholastic, is known for giving great writing workshops. She's now collected many of her talks together in Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. She discusses both picture books and novels, with in-depth analyses of the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, and a couple of humorous novels by Lisa Yee. It's like looking over her shoulder while she works! Along with advice on everything from opening lines to finding the emotional heart of your story, she addresses the business side of publishing by sharing an example of The Annotated Query Letter from Hell and an Annotated Query Letter That Does It Right.

Because these essays started with different talks Klein gave, the material is sometimes repetitive. That becomes interesting in itself, however, showing how ideas can develop and become refined over time, an example of editing. It's worth taking your time over each essay, letting it sink in and trying some of her techniques. This is one of the few writing books that seems to target intermediate and advanced writers far more than beginners. You'll return to this one again and again.

I've also combined many of my own articles on writing, plus expanded workshop notes, plus essays from other professional writers, into a 106 page book called Advanced Plotting, available as a $9.99 paperback or a $4.99 e-book. If you like the writing advice you get here, please check it out.

Happy editing.


  1. Do we post our excerpt here?

  2. I'd love to have your feedback! Here's the opening of my novel, a 55,000-word middle-grade paranormal:

    Eleanor shivered. It was spooky in the woods, and Lola seemed to have vanished without a trace. She whistled, then paused to listen. If she didn’t get back to the car soon, her mother would be furious.

    She was in trouble already, but it hadn’t been her fault. How could she have known that putting liquid soap in the dishwasher would cause a lemon-scented flood? As for Lola’s crime, if the neighbors didn’t want teeth marks on their umbrellas, they shouldn’t leave them lying about the foyer.

    Eleanor had apologized. She’d mopped up the suds, and she was saving her allowance to pay for the umbrellas. Still, Mom saw the incidents as proof that she needed more supervision. More structure. That was why they’d come to visit Looking Glass Falls Wilderness Adventure Camp.

    Eleanor sighed. Somehow she had to convince Mom that, at eleven, she was old enough to keep herself and her dog out of trouble, and that camp was a terrible idea. But first she had to find Lola. She scanned the woods for a gray-white plume of a tail. She strained her ears for the jingle of dog tags. But all she heard was a roar, like rushing water--then, suddenly, a scream and a splash.

    Eleanor ran toward the sound. Soon she burst from the shadow of the trees into a little hollow and saw a wonderful sight: a waterfall, spilling from the top of a cliff into a pool--and Lola, vigorously shaking water from her fur.

    “There you are, you rascal! Did you fall in the water?” As she threw her arms around her dog and fumbled for the leash, a sudden movement caught her eye. She looked up, squinting in the sunlight.

    A girl was walking slowly toward the edge of the woods.

  3. Thanks, Ruth! Looks great, and perfect for discussion next month.