Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tips on Surviving Revision Hell

Are you deep in Revision Hell? Don't despair. You can tackle those revisions and still keep your sanity. Just jot down the following tips from author Lydia Kang, then put them into practice. You're bound to have success.


1. Character Arc Sheet. Your main characters must go through a transformation through the book. Make a list of what these are, and the events that herald those changes for each character.

2. Relationship Arc Sheet
. Like the notes above, this one is specific to relationships between characters.

3. The Fix-It List
. As you revise and re-draft, you can't get everything perfect. You'll lose a ton of time fixing every last bit with every single sentence, so make lists of things you need to go back and fix later. That way, you keep the flow of your work going forward. This is mostly about keeping certain details consistent. ("make sure this all happens within a one week period" or "make map so location makes sense"). Stuff like that.

4. The Theme List
. If you use a lot of themes in your story--such as foreshadowing, motifs/symbols, or underlying mysteries-- they need to be revisited frequently enough that they're not forgotten by the reader. Eyeball this list as you revise every chapter.

5. Major Revisions. Every chapter has to reveal something important that propels the story forward, opens up new questions, or changes the dynamics of the plot or relationships. If one of your chapters is mostly filler, ax it.

6. Pretty Up the Prose. The prose in your first draft can be simple and not elegant. Take the time during your second or third pass to really work on making a turn of phrase more beautiful where it's needed, without overwriting.

7. Trim the Excess. Slash and burn the redundant and purple prose. It may hurt to do so, but it's a great way to tidy things up.

8. Pay Attention to the Acts. The three-act plot structure of storytelling works well. Revisit the structure of your story to keep it on target.

9. Pay Attention to the Highs and Lows
. It's important that the stakes increase as the story progresses, and that the interval lows worsen. 

10. Be Willing to Make Sacrifices. You've probably heard the term "kill your darlings". Well, it's not just about letting go of certain characters, but certain scenes and even huge chunks of your plot that simply aren't working. Be open minded about how your story could improve if you learn to let go. Remember you can always recycle what you've lost for other stories.

11. Take Breaks
. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Exercise occasionally. Take breaks! If you don't take care of your body, your brain won't be able to revise.

And there you have 'em. Helpful tips, eh? That Lydia Kang is a smart woman. =)

My main characters must go through a transformation through the book. I make lists of what these are, and the events that herald those changes for each character. Since CODE is a sequel, I'm often referencing the arcs in the first book. They have to be different but build on what the characters have already achieved in book one. - See more at: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/2014/01/tips-on-surviving-revision-hell.html#sthash.xsbVIT7M.dpuf

-- Image and text courtesy of author Lydia Kang via The League of Extraordinary Writers blog--

My main characters must go through a transformation through the book. I make lists of what these are, and the events that herald those changes for each character. Since CODE is a sequel, I'm often referencing the arcs in the first book. They have to be different but build on what the characters have already achieved in book one. - See more at: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/2014/01/tips-on-surviving-revision-hell.html#sthash.xsbVIT7M.dpuf

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. When I read Lydia Kang's post, I kept nodding my head in agreement. So I had to share.

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