Monday, May 19, 2008

Revision Tip Monday

This will be quick, because there's a Summer Blog Blast Tour going on, and both you and I need time to read all the fabulous interviews out there today (and the rest of the week.) But I did want to briefly post this:

I've begun revisions to New Recruit. To all of my blog readers' credit, no one seemed stunned when I mentioned last week that my revision letter was fifteen pages long. Dang. You guys are hard to impress. Kids at schools always gasp in horror when I show them the seven page letter I received for Letters From Rapunzel. I was hoping that fifteen pages would make me seem like a SuperBad Writer to them. No one could need that much redemption! No one could survive such a long, hard fall! When I stand before them with New Recruit in my hands---in the fall of 2009, I hope---I want them to see me as She Who Made Mistakes and Lived. I want them to know that writing is revision and redemption and completely and totally for those who can't get it right the first time.

In the spirit of that, I'm going to take blog notes as I go along. I'm calling these Revision Tips, but really, I have no idea if they will work for anyone but me. They're more like notes to myself: hey, dummy! You learned this once, now don't forget it next time!

Revision Tip:

Expect to discover new connections between characters. I don't think I could manage a level of intertwining like LOST, but without fail, when two characters share a past, or a future goal, or a present space, they automatically become more interesting, both to each other, and to the reader. At least let them reach for the licorice at the same time. Or discover they know the words to the same song. Everyone has seven degrees* of separation from everyone else, at least according to Kevin Bacon, so why shouldn't your characters?

*OOPS. Shouldn't that be six degrees?


  1. I'm not so sure anymore that *any*one should attempt a level of character-intertwining like LOST -- even the LOST writers, but I'm judging unfairly and too early. We'll see if they can pull it off and make sense!

    Have fun revising.

  2. Ooh, I can't wait to read your tips. Thanks for sharing. I think having a fifteen page guide to revision sounds awesome. I like that kind of specificity! Would you consider showing us a brief excerpt, a for example, recommendation for change?

  3. Hello! I'm new to your blog, but not new to the long revision letter. My recent revision letter for my current ms, tentatively titled THE FURBALL DIARIES (under contract for Wendy Lamb Books/Random House) was 11 pages. I did a major overhaul on the ms, but I need to revise again, I'm sure. I love the long revision letter. It means the editor is taking a real interest in my work.
    I can't wait to read your books!

  4. Welcome, Anjali, and a big congrats on your contract with Wendy Lamb--- and on that 11 page letter.

    I totally agree with you that it means you have an excellent editor who is dedicated to your book. I got tears in my eyes when I received my first one for Letters From Rapunzel, not because I was upset, but because I was so HAPPY. This one for the current book made me happy, too.

    Of course, I start seeing the thorny bits soon enough, and then despair of ever finding my way out of the revision thicket, but by then the roses smell so dang good that I've got to keep going. Um...I should probably revise that extended metaphor. It's a bit...flowery. ;)

    The Furball Diaries...cats? I'm curious, now.


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