Saturday, September 04, 2010

UGH!!! Revisions

You've read your manuscript again, and again. And again. You've got a deadline looming. Your completed, final manuscript is due to your agent or editor and you're still revising. You're tired. You're frustrated. You're just about ready to start taking hostages. What do you do? Take a small break. Walk your dog. Put your cat's favorite toy on the end of a fishing pole and watch the fun. (I've seen this done and it's more entertaining than cable tv.) Go to the gym. Treat yourself to lunch.

Then what?


Blend minor characters that can't stand on their own together or get rid of them. Make sure the logic of your story holds up. This one can be particularly difficult when writing science fiction or paranormal stories, but the fact remains: no matter how crazy the story, fiction has to make sense or it's not going to sell. Once you've done this, see if your manuscript passes the major test. Does it keep your reader turning the pages? You were drawn enough to the story to write it. Now put on your reader glasses and read it. Is the pace moving quickly enough where you need it to? If not, tighten it up with shorter sentences. Balance the action with the dialogue. Is the pace slowed down where the reader needs a break in the speed of the story? If not, work in some narrative. Just make sure that anything new you add to the story continues to move the story forward. Tell the reader what he or she needs to know to keep your story moving forward and that's it. Any extra prose you like you can copy and paste and save for use in a subsequent story.

Have you been working on revising your story so much now that you can barely stand to look at it anymore? You almost hate your story? Congratulations! You're at that perfect phase to finish it. Now, just go through that manuscript a few more times, fine tune it for logic, story elements, characterization; make sure it's smooth sailing forward throughout the story; double check grammar and punctuation. Have another trustworthy pair of eyes look at it. I mean a good critique partner who knows commercial fiction. Spouses, best friends and family members need not apply. They can read your book when it's bound and your name is on the spine. Like the old advertisement says, "Just do it." Finish it up and send it off to your agent or editor.

Then, get cracking on your next book. Enjoy!


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