Slow Reveal


One of the things I love about having a writer’s critique group is the learning opportunities it provides. I learn by reading the work of my CPs, through them critiquing my work, and through critiquing them. I’ll be the first to admit some of the things they suggest to help me strengthen my work are things I already know. Every now and then I’ll let a passive sentence slip by when it can easily be converted to an active one. Sometimes, I don’t dig deep enough because writing can feel like frothing egg whites by hand. It takes concentration, dedication, and by the end you ache from the effort.

Photo credit: Jon Rieley-Goddard aka baldblogger’s photostream

During a recent review of my current WIP Dark Intent, an adult paranormal romance, one of my CPs busted me on this very thing. My main character has a severe fear of the dark. I established my MC’s distress by showing her emotional/physical reaction to darkness. After watching her internal struggles for a while and not understanding the root cause, her responses lost impact. To avoid ‘info dumping’, the source of her terror must come out in bits and pieces.

The ground work for this was already there, I just didn’t dig deep enough. My CP helped me see how I could use the existing framework to strengthen my story. She recommended I go back to all those places where my MC attempts to confront her fear and reveal snippets of the inciting incident of her anxiety. Nothing major, just incomplete glimpses because in the dark, its often the thing we can’t fully see which scares us the most. It took my story from ‘can relate’ to ‘now I have goosebumps’.

Have you come across something similar in your writing/revising/editing process? Do you have any tips on slow reveals? Do you have character(s) coping with phobia?

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Committing to Manuscript Improvement


(Source)Recently, Rach Writes posted a quote from a post written by Mary Kole titled Big Revision on Kidlit.com. One line (two, for those of you who want to get technical) in particular, clarified the difference between sort of being committed to revising a manuscript and complete commitment to manuscript improvement.

“Let me say it here once and for all: unless you make big changes, a revision isn’t worth doing. If you go out on a submission round and get roundly rejected, you’re not going to solve your problem by going back to the page to tweak a few words here and there.” – Mary Kole

During the first rounds of the editing process, writers:

  • fix typos
  • correct grammar errors
  • correct punctuation errors
  • ensure characters are believable and consistent from beginning to end
  • double-check for plot holes
  • make sure readers are well-oriented with the setting
  • include the senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch [and where applicable sixth sense]) into each scene
  • etc.

This process yields a polished manuscript ready to submit to agents, editors, or publishers depending on the authors career goals. Sometimes, even after the daunting task of revisions, fundamental changes to the manuscript are necessary.

This is where Mary Kole’s advice comes into play. It takes total commitment to improve a manuscript. Writers have to be willing to let go of carefully selected words, beautiful prose, even entire pages for the good of the manuscript. When something in the story isn’t working, we can’t just change a few words in hopes of making it better. We must put in the effort and do the hard word to fix it, even if that means throughout portions of the story and starting fresh.

This week, DearEditor.com is hosting a Revision Week where eight prolific, bestselling, award-winning authors give insight to their revision process. One of my favorite questions the Editor asks is about the most drastic thing an authors have done. Some major thinking outside of the box. I’ve learned much through their interviews.

Has your work ever needed major revisions? Care to summarize why and how you fixed it? How do you know when to put down the proverbial red pen?