Santa’s elves arrived in the Forest early this year!
They brought the news that WINTERGIRLS has been named a Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, Kirkus’ Best YA Books of 2009, Booklist’s Editor’s Choice of 2009, the 2010 Texas Tayshas High School Reading List and nominated to YALSA’s 2010 Quick Pick List! It has also been nominated to the 2011 Grand Canyon Reader Award by the very nice people in Arizona, who were kind enough to nominate…
Each one of those lovely lists feels like another filled stocking in front of the fire!
REVISION TIP #3
Many people struggle to find a way to look at the larger picture of their novel. They can line edit a page or take a chapter to their writer’s group, but managing the unwieldy novel is hard.
Here is what I do.
1. Get the largest piece of paper you can find. I go to an art supply store and buy an enormous artist’s pad for this task.
2. You need to carve out three hours of concentration time. Turn off the internet and phone. Loan your dog and children and partner to nice people who will return them fed and watered after the the three hours. Chain off the driveway so delivery trucks and friendly people who don’t understand what you mean when you say "I’m working" can’t drop in.
3. On one of your massive sheets of paper, list every chapter in your book. Describe the action in the chapter in one sentence.
4. Now prepare a separate action list. (This one will take up a couple of sheets of paper. (Did I mention that you ‘ll need to clear off the kitchen table for this? And maybe the floor?) This list will break down each chapter into the scenes. Keep it brief! F. Ex.: "MC (main character) drops homework in fish tank. Fish die. MC hides them in flower vase. Mother sees them and flips out."
5. (This is the fun part) With a colored pen or pencil, go through the detailed chapter list and make notes about the emotional arc of your MC and the important secondary characters. Also, make sure that changes in mood are properly motivated, and that conflicts are set up. You might use different colors to represent different plot elements.
6. The threads of your novel are laid out in front of you. Step back and study it. Do your characters have reasonable emotional responses to the actions in the chapters? Do the building levels of conflict appear in the right order? (I often move scenes around at this stage.) Which scenes and/or chapters can you completely remove from the story without affecting anything else? What characters can you eliminate? Do you have any characters that can be combined because they serve the same purpose in the story. (I do this a lot.)
7. By the end of this process, your papers will be covered with notes, stickies and lots of colored arrows.
8. Sit down with the giant map of your novel and apply the changes to your manuscript. I like to do this on a hard copy first, then type in the changes.
9. Don’t forget to unchain the driveway and let your loved ones back in.
Dang, this is a long blog entry. Still with me? Questions?