What does revision have to do with the pyramids? Or suspect money making schemes?
The Revision Pyramid.
One of the best sessions I attended at this years NJ-SCBWI conference, Gabriela’s “Rock Your Revisions” gave me a sure-fire scheme for successful revision. Resembling Maslow’s theory of needs, Gabriela’s scheme lays out a roadmap for revision that should keep you from floundering around, rewriting, redrafting, and creating more work for yourself.
Oh, how I related to this. My last attempt at revising one of my novels lasted several months. Worse, while I wrote more words in revision than existed in the first draft, I never even got to the middle of the manuscript! I wasn’t using what was already good and I never fixed what was wrong in the first place.
I gave up and decided to let it digest for a bit. I’ve started work on a new novel, but Gabriela’s presentation gave me confidence that, as soon as I’m ready, I can tackle that revision and make a good story great.
For specific details, buy her book and/or sign up on her website (see above). The gist of her advice was to approach revision in a systematic manner.
- Write a draft! Get a complete draft on the page.
- Don’t start with copy or line editing. Leave the little details till last. Which makes sense. You wouldn’t touch up your makeup if you were about to go in for a facelift, would you?
- Approach the most basic level of your story first: narration. What POV are you using? Is it consistent? Does the voice change? Can you distinguish between the narrator and characters and between the different characters?
- That leads you to characters. What does your character want? Is he or she proactive or reactive? Are your secondary characters stealing the show?
- On to the story. Is something actually happening? What’s your pacing like? Do you have too much – or too little – backstory?
- Moving on to the scenes. This is where you examine your world building, descriptions, dialogue, and theme. Yes, theme.
- Now you can get into the nitty-gritty of details! Word choice, sentence rhythm, typos, errors, and of course, “killing your darlings.”
Possibly the most important advice she gave was to write fresh. When fixing something, don’t just edit it. Delete the scene, dialogue, whatever, and WRITE FROM SCRATCH.
But if something’s working, leave it alone. Don’t start the whole novel afresh from page one. If you need to play around, do it outside of your manuscript. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. 😉
Find an outline method that works for you and use it. Before you start writing – and after you’ve finished.
Finally, Gabriela advised using more than your critique group. Working with beta readers outside of your group and freelance editors will help you make your work shine.
I’ll leave you with a thought. Everything she advises for revising. . . can also work for your beginning draft. Thinking about the pyramid just might help you get to your zero draft quicker.
And then you can put it into practice revising. 😉