Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Essentials of Revision

-->I was on a panel at the most recent Public Safety Writers Association Conference. Our moderator for “The Essentials of Revision” was Austin S. Camacho, thriller writer and editorial director at Intrigue Publishing. On the panel with me were Lori Rader-Day, George Cramer, and Jim Guigli.

As is usual, we were given questions in advance so we could prepare a bit. One of the questions was about my revision process. I shared this picture of a word cloud I made for free at the website www.worditout.com.

This is the first chapter of Slipping into the Future, a women’s fiction novel I’m writing. The size of the word indicates frequency of appearance in the text. When I look at the word cloud, before editing, I see that my main character, her father, and her brothers’ names appear a lot. That’s good. I also see some words I need to edit out: just, like, about, back, and many more are bigger than they should be. Search and change or delete. Easy.

 The audience didn’t know about doing word clouds so I felt I contributed something to the discussion. I also distributed a handout with some tried-and-true and (maybe) new-to-you techniques. People like stuff for later reference. Here is most of the handout.

Tried-and-True Revision Tips
Focus first on plot structure, point of view, and pacing, followed 
by characterization and dialogue.
Read aloud to hear your pacing and dialogue.
Search for your killer words (really, just, actually, was/were, etc.).
Don’t work in isolation—have a writing group or buddy to read your work.
Put it aside to “percolate” and to get distance after completing 1st draft.
As you read, list what needs to change, but keep reading! Fix later.
Circle passive voice verbs and replace with strong verbs.
Do the hardest first, whatever that is for you.
Reward yourself for meeting a revision goal (e.g., deleting clichés, 
revise 50 pages, etc.).

Maybe New-to-You Revision Tips
Change the font and print out the manuscript. You’ll read closer.
Read your draft three times and make changes each time.
Compare scenes to a template: who, where, when, what, and why.
Does each scene end with a hook? Does each chapter end with a hook?
Make a word cloud to see which words you used most. I use worditout.com
Select “the” for a word search. Often, “the” is unnecessary.
Edit chapter by chapter from the end to avoid flow and missing things.

Now. Don’t you feel as if you were there? Nah. Not really. You missed all the humor stuff. Join me next year at PSWA Here’s the link to where you can sign up when they put up the new registration materials.

Do you know others who would like to read this post? If so, please post on social media. I’ve included a Facebook message as well as a tweet you can copy and paste. Thanks for you help.

Facebook: Do you struggle with making novel revisions? Maybe these ideas by Sharon Arthur Moore-Author will help. Especially check out word clouds. So cool! http://bit.ly/2fPTZVb

TwitterNovel #Revision can be more fun with #wordclouds. See @good2tweat’s revision ideas and how to do word clouds at http://bit.ly/2fPTZVb

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