Skipped one, sorry about that, Revision Tip # 16

Yesterday was…. let’s not go into it. Today is here and that is all that matters. If you are still shopping for a winter holiday, read "Cheese and Crackers Never Changed Anyone’s Life" and then finish your shopping at Indiebound. There now – wasn’t that simple? Congratulations to Melissa on this WINTERGIRLS video – the project earned her a 100 in her class. Revision Tip #16 (yes, I know it should be 15, but yesterday really was something of a mess and it’s easier this way. Do you remember the "Bruce" sketch of Monty Python? Remember how there was no Rule #6? This is the same thing.) Where was I? Right, Revision Tip #16 Revision is the perfect time to brainstorm. Really. Brainstorming is not a one-and-done part of the writing process. Not the way I see it. After that messy first draft, I usually have chapters that feel empty or out-of-place. I mentioned the way I use huge sheets of paper to organize my chapters. Here is another technique. 1. Identify the critical chapters in your novel. Which are the ones that contain The Really Big Stuff? The Really Big Stuff chapters will usually be separated by chapters in which the action unfolds in a slightly less intense way. Think of your novel as a wide river that your reader needs to cross. The RBS (Really Big Stuff) chapters are small islands in the river. The other chapters are either stepping stones or bridges that get the reader from one island to the next. 2. List the Stones & Bridges chapters, then prioritize them by how alive they feel. What is the chapter that feels the most flat – the chapter (or chapters!) you are secretly wondering if you should cut? 3. Don’t cut them yet. 4. There is no Four. 5. Brainstorm as if you were starting from scratch. For each of the flat chapters, dream up ten different ways the action could unfold. Go ahead – be outrageous. I dare you. Sometimes thinking way outside the box is what you need to jolt your writer brain into clearer storytelling. 6. (Please note; there IS a Rule Six, Bruce!) Pick one of the ten and just freewrite the chapter over again. How does it help the reader understand the characters better? How does it move the story forward? 7. Rinse. Repeat. Send me questions.
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3 Comments

  1. Posted December 16, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    That first link is so true. I couldn’t tell you who bought me most Christmas gifts over the years, but I always remember who it was who introduced me to my favorite books. My best friend got me to read Speak, going on ten years ago now, and I’ve never forgotten it or her.

  2. Posted December 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I love this revision tip, thank you.

  3. Posted January 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Happy New Year! and Three Cheers for Revision Tips! (cling!)

    What a wonderful way to start out the New Year then with LHA’s Revision Tips! I haven’t been ‘tuned in’ for awhile, so I had lots of homework to do.I have to THANK YOU so much for these tips, so timely! (I had to clap out loud when I read Revision Tip #10!!;+)

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