Today’s Guest Blogger is Linda Lee Williams, with a look at how she tackles writing a first draft, and then revising it. You go, Linda! 🙂
Revision: To See Again…
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Prachett
I’m an author who spews from the heart. When I’m finished with my first draft, I have quite a mess to clean up. The task to refashion the story seems daunting. Over the years, I’ve learned how to manage the chore. It’s impossible to do everything the first time around. Multiple revisions are required before a book takes form. Here’s how I tackle the project.
After a “cooling period,” I read the printed manuscript. I note where the story drags or the plot falters. Then I start pruning, beginning with introspection—too much “internal monologue.” It took me a while, but I figured out that readers don’t need to know a character’s every thought! Another problem area for me is description. I tend to go overboard rather than zero in on specific details. During this phase of revising, I trim 10% from my book.
Next, I assess the characters. Are they who I imagined they would be? Do they fit with the storyline and the situation? Are the protagonists likable, sympathetic? Do they have flaws, inner strengths, and emotional conflict? Will the reader connect with them? My fictional people grow and change, but I develop personality profiles well in advance of writing the story. Knowing “the players” beforehand helps me keep the plot on course.
While evaluating the characters, I study the dialogue. I keep in mind that dialogue is the distillation of conversation. Like introspection, it can be cut down or condensed. Characters must live on the page, not be static. However, too many gestures or actions can weigh a story down. Often, I’ve qualified or explained a character’s speech when it wasn’t necessary. I try to remember the adage, “If you tell, you don’t have to show; if you show you don’t have to tell.”
Now, it’s time to don my editor’s cap. I scrutinize grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Do the sentences flow smoothly and make sense? Did I vary their structure? Are they punctuated properly? Did I overuse adjectives and adverbs? Are the verb tenses consistent? Have I relied on too many “pet words” or expressions? Did any clichés sneak in?
My story comes into sharper focus. At last, the book is ready for beta readers. Once I’ve heard back from them, I make final changes. I give the manuscript to a proofreader. Then I check the eBook in my Kindle Previewer to make sure that the document is formatted properly.
During the throes of revision, I take time off, giving my brain a break. Right now, I’m revising my first novel, which needs a thorough “housecleaning.” I know I can tighten the narrative and improve the story. Writing is, after all, a continual learning process.
How do you tackle the difficult task of revising your books?
Linda Lee Williams
Linda Lee Williams lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their sweet dog, Bart. Over the years she’s taught creative writing classes, hosted a writers’ group, and written a variety of contemporary romances with a paranormal slant.
In addition to Elsewhere, Linda has a family-oriented, vampire series titled Blood & Company: Old Town Nights, Sisters of the Night, New England Nights, and Brothers of the Night. She’s participated in two anthologies and contributed to a fun cookbook: Cooking With The Crazy Lady Authors. Her Christmas novella, The Breadth of the Soul, will be out this month.
Connect to Linda on Social Media Here:
eNovel Authors: http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/linda-lee-williams/
Crazy Lady Authors: http://www.crazyladyauthors.weebly.com
Buy Linda’s Books HERE: