Sunday, 16 September 2012

Revision workshop Part 2 - The Nitty Gritty of revising

On Saturday 8 September I went to Sara Grant's workshop on revision part 2. She called it the nitty gritty of revising. Here is what I learnt, and will use for my revising for future wips.

One of the first things we did was to highlight each scene in our first chapters. Once you have done this, you have to ask yourself these questions?

Where are you?
Do they follow on?
What is the timing and setting?
Is there action?
Is everything in it important?
Can it start later and end sooner?

I found this exercise very useful. I thought I'd cut out plenty of words that weren't needed, but I was wrong after this exercise. I soon found lots more that could be cut and didn't get the story moving. I will definitely use this again for when I revise all my wips.

We also highlighted each verb. Again another useful exercise, as you can see any repeated actions you give your characters. Mine blink a lot.

Flashbacks were mentioned - Sara said see if you can lose them, when you do, do you really need them?
Look at exposition, again do you really need them?
Look at structure of phrase eg he said and physical actions.
Do you have complex sentences? Are they compelling and tight? (Mine aren't). Don't put mundane actions in sentences unless your character lives a mundane life. (Just read this again, and see that this is what I have done for my mermaid story).
Passive verbs - check if necessary. Use find for 'ly' words. Underline nouns.

It was mentioned that when writing for teens, five years before the present day they won't know any TV programmes. This made me think, as I'd mentioned one in Rosie that they prob wouldn't know now, so I have changed it to generalisation.

I think then we were asked to pair up with someone we didn't know, give each other two pages of our mss, and read them.  Then write down at the back what genre, age range you thought it was for, things you gathered about the character. My partner thought Rosie was a coming of age novel. So, have now decided to write about more magic in the first page.

Then we were asked our pet peeves as a reader, and common errors as a writer.  Here are mine:

Pet peeves are: Too much tell and no show (I think this for new authors, as to me, it means they haven't got their ms professionally edited). And too much head hopping, making me confused as to whom is speaking.
Common errors - too much dialogue without action and indication of who's speaking. No character background (this was mentioned to me about my ghost story), and repetition of words. (The above highlighting exercise should now cure that).

One last bit of advice - consider age range for your book and check the wordage.

Overall a very useful workshop, which I will use exercises from for my wips. Thank you, Sara.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Hi Julie
I'm so glad your one to one was helpful. Sounds like you asked some really good questions in the discussion afterwards that would have benefitted the other writers in your group too.
Getting lost must have been frightening. I know exactly what you mean about the value of a good map. I rely too much on my iphone which means when there's no 3G I'm stuck. I'm really impressed how you've used that experience to work out a strategy for what to do if it happens again:o)