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Posts Tagged ‘revising’

  1. The Revision Mire

    October 2, 2014 by Kiersi

    Well, I’m deep in a second revision of a Very Exciting Middle-Grade Project (this is how I cleverly work around actually telling you the name of this project, aren’t I clever?) and let’s just say, editing a book is much less magical when it’s the second time you’ve edited said book in a matter of weeks.

    I was so charmed by this book when I began work on my second draft with a pile of excellent notes in hand from my talented critique partner, Amber KeyserWow! I thought. This sure needs a lot of work, but the bones are all here. Amazing. I can’t believe she actually liked it! Maybe it’s worth its salt? It will be when I finish all this hard work! I’m really inspired to get it all done!

    How sweet and naïve of you, Kiersi-from-a-month-ago. What a world you lived in. How I wish I could be your roommate in it.

    I mean, I did do a pretty good first revision (::blows on knuckles, rubs knuckles on collar::) if I do say so myself. It did accomplish what it needed to accomplish. But now there’s this next step, this third draft thing before the book can move on to its next life stage, and suddenly ugh I actually have to do work now? It’s not all fun and games and ponies and rainbows and cute little polkadot bowties forever?!

    How dare you, book. HOW DARE YOU.

    But! There’s a carrot at the end of the stick. If I get this done and send it in, I get to try my hand at a shiny new project. A potentially very exciting and lucrative and hilarious and edgy new project. Wow, what kind of series of adjectives was that? Do I get a prize?

    Have you ever worked on revisions in close succession? What do you do to get the magic back? Let me know in the comments!

  2. Developing Character with Story

    May 22, 2013 by Kiersi

    Chet GeckoI had an amazing time at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Oregon conference this past weekend. I learned craft from Laini Taylor (author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone), middle-grade humor from Bruce Hale (the very prolific middle-grade author of the Chet Gecko series), and attended a special session on story and character arcs by HarperCollins editor Andrew Harwell.

    The main lesson I came home with was in regards to character. Of course, I picked up a lot about writing for a middle-grade audience, which is invaluable to the point that I can’t express myself in words, and writing as a reader experience. But mostly, I started thinking long and hard about character. (more…)

  3. Your Thing Is Good and You Should Feel Good

    May 7, 2013 by Kiersi

    Back in March, my dear friend and critique partner Eddy Rivas posted a great blog post called, “Your Thing Is Good and You Should Feel Good.” He invited anyone and everyone to post a piece of their WIP to the comments section. He would read each one and reply, “Your thing is good and you should feel good.”

    It was a hit. And I think I know why.

    Sometimes we writers fall out of love with our work. It happens. It’s not because we don’t love the story or the characters anymore. Personally, I grow weary of the revision process pretty quickly. I love writing a new story; it’s thrilling, exciting, like first love. But over time, when I have to deepen my understanding of my story, my characters, and revisit them constantly–I get sick of it.

    I fall out of love.

    So, today, dear Eddy gave me what I call some revision therapy. He asked me:

    “Tell me what you love about this book.”

    I told him. I love my assassins–especially young Scorpion, missing his tongue, but still sexy as all get-out. I love my drunk Han Solo character, who goes by Lionel Harvey. I definitely love the climax of this novel; it’s scary and sad and the end of a great character arc.

    But I’m not on that stuff yet. I’m still mired in the first third of the MS, where it seems like I’ve been for the last few months.

    “Well,” he said, “tell me what you love about the part you’re working on.”

    I had to think about it. I love the gryphon carrying a horse around in the air–it’s such a ridiculous image, and the horse is almost too freaked out to actually, you know, freak out. She’s just stunned. I loved writing that look on her face, giving her life and personality.

    I love getting to know my characters better. They’re pitted against some bandits, and hijinks ensue–and let me tell you, I love me some hijinks.

    Suddenly, after this conversation, the juices started flowing again. I’m tearing up this MS and putting down new, better words like my hair is on fire.

    “Your thing is good,” Eddy told me. “And you should feel good.”

    It’s amazing what just a few words can do. My manuscript is good. I should feel good about it.

    I do.

    So tell me–what are you working on right now? Post it to the comments section, or even better, post it to your own blog–and let’s make this a thing!

  4. Small Improvements

    February 11, 2013 by Kiersi

    Final stage revising is all about the tiny improvements. Selecting the right word for the right location, moving dialogue tags to give the dialogue more oomph, sprinkling in more thoughtful observations and edgy humor.

    Here is a selection of bits and pieces from my August book release (the first book in the Fire and Brimstone series) that were changed, added, or improved in this final polish-oriented revision:

    Girls were screaming. Not guy-in-a-hockey-mask screams, but the screams of fanatic teenagers mobbing a rock star just before a show.

    An important distinction.

    I had to admire Rain, striding into the cameras, oblivious to the sound of beetle jaws snapping her everlasting likeness.

    I never thought of cameras or cameramen as having such a peculiar likeness to beetles until Mockingjay.

    The sky had a strange milky-gray pallor, like it had had too much to drink the night before.

    A British friend added, “Or bad tea.”

    Weston is already stirring things up at the office. Tad acted all morning like a giant inflatable tube-guy in an auto dealership parking lot, flailing around and stressing everyone out.

    This was actually inspired by an episode of The Simpsons. I think Homer gets one of those tube guys.

    “It just doesn’t make sense! He read one of your assignments and—”

    “Hey, girls.”

    Veronica’s entire body stopped moving, like someone had pressed pause.

    “H-h-hey, Everett.” She recovered miraculously as Everett slid in next to me on the bench. “What’s up? You’re looking good. I mean, your hair is looking good. I mean, the rest of you is OK, too. In fact it’s more than—”

    “Thanks,” he said, interrupting her. He turned to me. “What are you up to this weekend? Brandy’s dad’s out of town and she’s having a big party on Saturday night.”

    Veronica’s face fell. “We didn’t hear anything about a party.”

    In this draft, Veronica became “Ronnie,” making her both more personable and also more dorky. I amped up her bitch meter but in a funny, almost likable way. She has so much more character and personality now–perfect for a supporting character.

    I took a couple hours off from this final revision sprint to make a little sculpture tribute to Pendleton Ward, creator of the fabulous TV show for kids and adults, Adventure Time. (Seriously, if you are ever lacking in ideas while writing children’s lit, this is the show for you.)

    Remember, taking breaks and using your mind in new and unfamiliar ways is important to a creative lifestyle!

  5. The Zero Draft

    February 5, 2013 by Kiersi

    I really owe credit to my partner-in-brainstorming Eddy over at Eddy Writes (an awesome blog, if you haven’t already been) for the term zero draft. He coined it after I refused to show him my first run-through of my NaNoWriMo novel, Gryphon.

    I refused because I wanted to take some time away from the novel and perform a revision before sending it to anyone. Why? A NaNoWriMo novel, by its very definition, is written over the course of a single month–and most of that time, you’re encouraged “not to look back”: just keep writing. Don’t stop. Don’t turn around and re-read and fix and obsess. Just keep writing.

    For me, this bizarre pace results in a draft that is both fluid and cohesive, but also a total freaking wreck. Like, I would not even show this thing to a third grader, not to mention a critique partner that I actually respect. I refuse to even really call it a draft. Or even a manuscript.

    Thus: zero draft. Not quite version 1, not quite out of beta; completed, but still in the incubation stage. (more…)

  6. 5 Tips for Improving Your Novel’s Middle

    February 3, 2013 by Kiersi

    When everything goes to hell in a handbasket in Star Wars: A New Hope

    Most authors I know agree with one thing about writing a novel:

    Middles are the worst.

    It’s true. They are. Middles are like the sagging back of an old horse, the rope suspension bridge between Beginning and End that is slowly unraveling, and probably not safe for more than one person to cross at a time.

    I totally get that. Somewhere after the inciting incident (about 10,000 words in) and before the build up to the climax (about 15,000 words from the end) you have to, you know–make stuff happen. Fill all that empty, soggy space between Point A and Point B. And it can be really hard to make that middle stuff not feel slow and muddy to the reader.

    As I’m revising my middle-grade manuscript, Gryphon, I’ve discovered a few tricks for making middles not only not suck, but possibly become the best part of your novel.

    1. Raise the stakes. This “tip” gets thrown around a lot, and for a long time I wasn’t really sure how one could implement such broad-sided advice. (more…)

  7. I Hate Editing

    January 8, 2013 by Kiersi

    I have no idea what this is, but it is awesome

    "Crazy Frog" by moffoys - Who even cares what it is, it is perfect

    There are some superstar authors who don’t hate editing or revising. I spend a lot of my revision time envying them, instead of doing what I’m supposed to be doing, because that’s how I roll. And that’s probably also why I still haven’t finished a revision of my middle-grade book, Gryphon. Because I hate revising.

    I do love writing, though.

    So, over time I’ve been building up my resolve, and packing it together like a mud pie from lots of little shredded pieces of sanity (they fall off now and again, and must be collected in a handmade wicker basket). The following bullet points have occurred to me:

    -Print it all out, to stop the ever-present I must change this word right now, this isn’t right, and now I am so hung up on this one stupid line that I am so frustrated with myself and I wish this had all never happened at all goodbye world. (more…)

  8. Vision Quest 2012: The Mission

    December 3, 2012 by Kiersi

    Three-way goat fight!

    I leave first thing in the morning tomorrow for my friend’s ranch in northern California. As seen above, there are goats, which I will be herding and milking in exchange for my room and board. I’ll be living in a grounded boat on the property with no internet connection and very little phone service, if any.

    The perfect place to write. (more…)

  9. Something Scary Comes: NaNoWriMo

    October 31, 2012 by Kiersi

    National Novel Writing Month logo

    It’s pretty apt that National Novel Writing Month (codenamed NaNoWriMo) follows right on the heels of Halloween–there is something truly terrifying about the prospect of cranking out that many words in such a small amount of time, and also, somehow, achieving a moderate level of coherence.

    What is it?

    In the month of November, masochists around the world hunch over their laptops and try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s a test as much as it is a motivator–it’s for all those people who want to write a book, but just can’t buckle down and do it. (more…)

  10. Writer’s Tools: Scrivener Review

    October 24, 2012 by Kiersi


    Specs: Scrivener is available for Windows and Mac (Scrivener for Windows, Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X 10.6.7 and above).

    Requires 70MB on Mac OS X, 100MB on Windows.

    The Review:

    There is so much to say about Scrivener. You might have traversed my review of StoryMill when I first set out to find a good piece of novel-writing software–it had so many of the things I wanted, but I found the formatting tools annoying and a tad crippling. (more…)