I opted to miss the A-Z Blogging Challenge this month so I could focus on rewriting my novel. URTH was the first novel I’d written since I got serious about trying to get published. I wrote it 3 years ago, edited it, queried it, then set it aside when I realized I should probably move on and write a completely different story.
Last month, I re-read URTH in its entirety, after 2 whole years of letting it marinate. It’s amazing how much one’s perspective changes over time.
I’ve learned a lot more about writing in the past two years, and set URTH aside long enough to gain distance from it and view it with editorial eyes.
I had edited URTH 8 times and thought it was publishable and query-ready. Boy was I wrong. My novel was rich with details. TOO rich, in fact. There were too many subplots, and too many characters with names. My main characters jumped from one setting to another, overcoming problem after problem.
I made the usual mistakes first time writers make: I had so many ideas when I first started and I tried to stuff it all in one book.
I re-read URTH again. But this time I took notes, keeping the following questions in mind:
- Which characters are important to the story and which characters can I do without?
- Do my characters show their strengths as well as their flaws?
- Do their characteristics show clearly through their actions and dialogues?
- Are my main characters active in their decision-making, or do they passively let things happen to them?
- Are my characters sympathetic, relatable or likeable?
- Does my story have both internal and external conflict?
- Are these conflicts tackled clearly in every scene, pushing the story forward?
- How do I simplify this (convoluted and complicated) plot? Can I restructure this story to make it flow better?
- What plot points or subplots are most important?
- What scenes can I cut from the story?
- What story settings do I find most interesting or intriguing?
- Are these settings relevant to the story?
- Do these settings show enough world-building to make the story more believable?
- Did I choose the correct POV?
- Do I shift POV’s midway through a scene?
- Is my story too preachy?
- Does my story have an overarching theme?
- Does this theme help tell a good story, or does it get in the way?
After making notes, I went to work on a new story outline. I removed unnecessary characters, subplots, and scenes, leaving the ones that actually work in moving the story forward.
I rearranged scenes to create a smoother, simpler flow and made a schedule so I could work on at least 2-3 scenes a day this month. I try and push myself to finish more whenever I can.
I mostly write for my own enjoyment, but I also write with the intent of getting published and someday being able to share my work. So I keep my future readers in mind as I write.
Since I’m writing a Middle Grade novel, I try to avoid too many flashbacks. I make sure the events are described chronologically, as they are happening, to keep my younger readers in the moment. I also avoid using complex words, when simpler ones will help tell the story better.
My aim is to finish 90% of my rewrites this month. Wish me luck!
What techniques do you use when revising your manuscripts? Do you have any revising tips or tricks to share?
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