Editing Checklist, Part 2

Find-ReplaceFollowing up from last week’s editing checklist part 1, today I’m focusing on words that are easily confused.

Some say English is one of the most difficult languages to master because it has many words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. As writers, we need to know which to use when.

Even if you already know which to use when, it’s easy to mistakenly use the wrong one when you’re typing away concentrating on characters and story. And it’s easy to read over it when it you’re editing and not notice that it’s the wrong one — our brains read what they know should be there.

These mistakes won’t be picked up by spell check, but you can still find and fix problem usage. Do a Find search in Word or whatever program you use to write and make sure you’re always using the correct form.

Here’s a handy checklist for the most common switcheroos writers do:

There/Their/They’re: The uses for these are location/plural possession/shortened version of “they are.” Examples of the correct usage for each are:

  • The pen is over there.
  • Their dog is so cute.
  • They’re the prettiest flowers in the whole garden.

Passed/Past: Passed is the past tense of “to pass,” so if the usage involves the passing of time, or any kind of forward movement, this is the correct version. Example: “We passed three gas stations before we finally pulled in.”

Past is related to location in place or time and has many uses:

  • Adverb meaning to go by, as in “Birds flew past the window.”
  • Noun meaning time, as in “The economy was so much better in the past.”
  • Adjective meaning an action is over, as in “Our school days have past.”
  • Preposition meaning beyond, as in “Wedding guests will start arriving at quarter past three.”

Further/Farther: Both of these mean distance, but farther is physical distance and further is figurative. Examples:

  • The grocery store is farther down the road.
  • I wish I had gone further in school.

Loose/Lose: Despite their similar spellings, these words have very different meanings.

  • Loose is when something is free-flying, example, “The awning came loose from the wall.”
  • Lose refers to possession, something you don’t have or will not have anymore, example, “Don’t play for money if you often lose at poker. “

To/Too/Two: To is related to motion or the limit of motion, as in “We walked from one side of the mall to the other” or “Visiting time is three to five.” Too means as well, example, “My friends love chocolate and I love it too.” Two is the number, a pair, as in, “I have two more hours to work on my manuscript.”

Who/Whom: Who is used when you’re referring to the subject, the person who’s doing something, and whom for the object, the person to whom something is being done. To make it easier, turn it into a question and see if the answer would use he or him. If it’s he, use who, for him, use whom. For example, “Who ate the last cookie?” You wouldn’t answer “Him did.” You’d answer “He did.” So “who” is correct. If you want to ask who received the last cookie, the answer would be, “I gave it to him,” so “whom” is correct, as in, “To whom did you give the last cookie?”

That/Which: Okay, these aren’t similar in spelling, but they are often mixed up. Both attach descriptions, but in different ways. (There are other uses for that, but I’m focusing on the one that causes the most confusion.) Here’s the trick: If what comes after is necessary to the meaning of the sentence, use that; if it’s additional information, use which. For example, “My hair is so curly that I have to keep it in a ponytail” or “My hair is so curly, which I like.”

Sometimes, both versions of the same sentence are correct, so you have to consider the context. For example, say someone is looking for a wood coffee table, “I have a square coffee table that is made of wood” is correct. If the person is looking for a square coffee table, “I have a square coffee table, which is made of wood” is more appropriate.

Quick note on “that” — many times, it’s not necessary. If you don’t need it, delete it. An example of where it’s not needed: “The gardeners that are working on the landscaping have green thumbs.” Try, “The gardeners working on the landscaping have green thumbs.”

Manuscript Format: When you’ve fixed all the problems in your manuscript, it’s time to format it properly before you send it out. (Of course, you can do this earlier if you’d like.) Now, there is some different information on the Web regarding formatting, but here are the basics.

  • Document size should be 8 1/2 x 11 white paper
  • 1-inch margins on each side
  • Use 12-point text that’s either Ariel or Times New Roman
  • Consecutive numbering on pages
  • First page should have the writer’s name and contact information in the top left corner single spaced, title halfway down the page, the byline double-spaced below the title and the story text beginning two-thirds down the page (Why so much space? Editors and agents like to write notes on that first page.)
  • Double-space all the text of the story
  • Start each chapter at the top of a new page
  • Put your name, a shortened version of the title and your phone number and/or email address in the header of each page (This is so the agent or editor can still contact you even if they accidentally lose the first page.)

What to do after you’ve done all these checks, polished and formatted your manuscript and sent it off to editors and agents? Start writing another one.

Any questions? What are your problem areas?

Editing Checklist, Part 1

editingWhen I’m editing manuscripts — my own and others — I’m often fixing the same things. All writers have little mistakes they always make, and many of us stumble over the same ones.

Now, when I say “editing,” I don’t mean “revising.” When you’re revising, you’re fixing character and plot issues. When you’re editing, you’re concentrating on the text on a word by word, sentence by sentence basis. It’s proofreading with a little extra.

Editing our own work can be particularly difficult. Our brains often skip over problems when we’re reading; we know what we were trying to write and our brains read what they know the words should be. This is one of the biggest reasons to hire a copy editor to make sure your manuscript is really shined up properly before you go out on submission and/or self-publish.

But, say an agent just requested your first 10 pages, or you just heard about a conference critique or contest that would be perfect for you and you need to get your submission out quickly. No worries!

Identify what your main problem areas are, then go through your pages once for each issue. With each read-through, choose one common mistake and scour your pages for places that you’ve made that error. When applicable, you also can use the Find/Replace feature in Word.

Here are some of the more common problems I see when editing:

Tension: Every scene needs tension. If it doesn’t have tension, a scene will be flat and a reader will have a hard time continuing. Having tension, doesn’t mean every novel has to be a drama. Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid books are hilarious and are filled with tension. Tension comes from conflict, from the character not being able to get what he or she wants in that scene, the see-saw battle of trying to achieve and falling short, getting somewhere, but falling again.

Tension keeps readers  reading. They want to know what’s going to happen next, whether the character will get what they’ve been aiming for.

When you’re reading your manuscript as an editor, mark pages with tension or conflict with a T. When you’re done, revisit any page that doesn’t have a T and see how you can ramp up the stakes. It may be as simple as adding in a faulty stove in a scene where the character is cooking an omelet. Whatever it is, make sure there’s tension in every scene.

Dialog attributions: Generally, the best attribution to use with dialog is the good old “said.” It’s boring, you say? Yes, but that’s the point. Too many Bob exclaimed, Sally squawked, Mike  cried slows the text. Readers want to get to the action as quickly as possible, and if you just use said, readers’ brains can skip over them quickly and get to the good stuff. That being said (no pun intended), attributions are necessary.

If you have three or more people in a scene, you need to make sure every piece of dialog is attributed to someone so as to not confuse the reader. If you only have two people in the scene, still throw in an attribution every few lines to keep the reader on track and to break up the dialog. Billy Bob said or said Billy Bob is fine, either at the end of the dialog or in the middle if he says a few sentences.

But said isn’t the only way to tell a reader who’s speaking. Rotate the saids with action, for example.

“I don’t know how to say this.” Casey twisted the ends of her hair. “I just don’t like you.”

Etc. So, go through your manuscript looking at the dialog. Make sure it’s easy for readers to tell who is speaking, that said is the tag of choice, but when appropriate, you’re showing who’s speaking with action.

Unnecessarily long sentences: Sentence structure in novels is a place where writers can turn their back on the old grammar rules they learned in school — as long as they do it for a reason. At the beginning of his Looking for Alaska, John Green has a sentence that’s the size of a rather stuffed paragraph, but its length makes a statement about the character’s state of mind.

Read through your manuscript picking out sentences that are long. For each, ask: Is it grammatically correct? Does its length reflect the pacing of the scene or something to do with the character? Can the sentence be cut into two or three sentences and achieve the same result? Make fixes as appropriate.

Repeated words: With descriptions, we always have our go to words, and editing is the perfect chance to vary them.

Read your work concentrating on every word. Don’t read sentences; just read the text as though it’s a long list of words. Reading aloud is a great way to do this.

If you pick up that “walk,” for example, has been used a couple times in the same sentence or paragraph, change one to “stroll” or something better. As frustrating as it must be to foreigners, the English language gives us plenty of words with similar meanings. Take advantage of them in your writing to make sure you’re not repeating the same descriptive words too often.

In part 2, we’ll look at words that are easily confused and proper manuscript formating for submissions.

Have you found these problems in your manuscripts? Any others you’re in the habit of doing?

Revision Strategies: Edit or Start Again?

blank computer screenIn my 19 years as a journalist and editor, editing was always open document, save as version 2 (or 3 or whatever, we actually used our initials) then clean it up. Don’t waste what you’ve already got. Build up the weak spots, move sections around, polish up the sentences and viola! The final piece. We always worked off that first draft.

So I was surprised — shocked was more like it — when author and former editor Lisa Graff said at the 2010 Austin SCBWI conference that once she’d finished her draft, she’d scrap it and start again. Scrap it? Start with a new blank document? No “save as”?

Last week, Cynthia Leitich Smith described the same revision strategy:

“writing the entire story with a beginning, middle, and end, and then printing it, reading it, tossing it and deleting the file.”

But Cynthia explained what seemed like madness to me in such a useful way:

“It’s a comforting strategy, one that takes a lot of pressure off (nobody but me was going to read it anyway) and offers the opportunity to get to know the characters and their world. You don’t commit to a working manuscript based on that first effort. (It would be a very shaky foundation.) Instead, you start over fresh, armed with lessons learned from the intensive pre-writing.”

Wise words indeed.

Personally, I don’t know if I could just scrap an entire draft — especially not delete it!

But in the last two revisions I’ve done, I can see that there’s something to this start-again strategy. As I edited my last novel, I began by reworking scenes sentence by sentence, but I started to get frustrated. The story wanted to move ahead, but my brain was saying, ‘hold on, we just have to figure out how to get this older sentence in there.’ Finally, I cut the older version and pasted it into a different file and rewrote the scene with the new focus I had in mind, with the plan that later I’d go through the “cut” file and see if there were any parts I particularly wanted to keep.

Not only did my writing go faster, but the scenes came out better than the earlier versions, with more depth and plenty of new parts that surprised me. When I was done, I started to look through the cut segments, but quickly realized I didn’t need to. If there was some excellent sentence in there, it no longer fit, and it was no longer needed.

Fear had kept me from trying this before. Fear of not being able to reproduce something that I thought was good. I figured, if I could keep what was good, I could make it better by just building up the weak spots, moving sections around and polishing up the sentences. Stick with the foundation and carve from there.

While that’s a perfectly good revision strategy, I learned that starting again from scratch gave me the freedom to explore my story and characters just like I would within a first draft but with all the knowledge I had gained during my earlier versions.

For chapters that needed minor work, I stuck to my old routine. But when I had an idea that would dramatically change a scene, I started it as if it was new.

So I understand what Lisa and Cynthia meant now, and while I still wouldn’t hit that delete button on a first draft, I do love being able to start over.

What are your strategies for revision?

Image source

Writing Young Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson

Staying on the topic of revising, I talked to someone who knows a lot about making children’s literary the best. Deborah Halverson has been on both sides of the desk, working as an editor for Harcourt for 10 years and later as an author of two teen novels, Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth, both published by Delacorte/Random House. She also founded the DearEditor.com website where she helps other writers take their work to the next level.

Deborah Halverson

Deborah Halverson

Today, she’s launching her newest book, Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, in which she poured all her experience and knowledge. (Check back soon for a review.)

Deborah chatted with us about editing, writing and switching genres.

You’ve been on both sides of the desk as an editor and as an author. How do the jobs differ?

I’ve always seen editing and writing as two very different jobs—creating versus trouble-shooting. What surprises me is their chief commonality: both require firm decision-making. You can’t be mamby-pamby with the elements and characters in your manuscript if you’re going to finish the darn thing and polish it up for submission. You have to conceive, implement, and then look at the page and decide yay or nay and then move on. I believe lack of decisiveness is a big factor in writer’s block.

An editor must be equally decisive. She’s got more work on her desk than hours in the day, and if she can’t make dozens of decisions every day (read this submission or that contracted manuscript? Reject or offer a contract? Ask for more revision or accept the draft you’ve got? Is this the problem with the plot or that? Position the book this way or that?), she’s as stalled as any writer suffering the terrible W.B. And obviously, a stalled editor ain’t a good thing.

Do you find it easy to edit your own work, or is it easier to edit someone else’s? Why?

Objectivity is impossible to maintain when you’re writing a novel. It is essential for editing one. Thus it’s easier to edit someone else’s manuscript than my own. I self-edit my manuscripts to a point where I feel that I’ve spotted all the weaknesses I’m ever going to spot, and then I bring in an editor friend to give it the once over. This all happens before I submit to my agent. And since my agent has an editorial background, she’ll throw in her 2 cents, too. And yay for that! Whatever makes the story stronger.

Interestingly, sometimes an editor in a publishing house can read through a single manuscript and its revisions so many times that she feels too close herself and decides to bring in a fresh set of eyes. When that happens, she’ll step over to the office next door and ask her colleague to take a look to make sure all the issues have been resolved. And then copyeditors and even proofreaders might pick up on something because they are coming in fresh! It’s all in service of the story, the author, and the reader.

Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies book coverYou started out writing novels and have now turned your experience into the non-fiction instructional book Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies. How different was it to write this book compared to your novels?

I discovered that I really, really enjoy writing nonfiction. That wasn’t a total surprise since I very much enjoy writing my writing advice posts on my website DearEditor.com, but the extent of my joy in the genre was eye opening. My challenge with this book wasn’t inventing characters and plotlines out of nowhere as it is when I write novels, it was trying to word potentially dry material in an accessible and engaging way. I loved finding creative and even funny ways to come at the material. Loved it!

My litmus test was my editor at Wiley. If I could cause her to send me an email out of the blue that said, “Ha! Just read X. Funny, Halverson” then I knew I scored. She and my copyeditor have awesome senses of humor and so writing this book was a joy all around. I hope that comes through for readers.

What was your biggest challenge writing your For Dummies book? And what pleases you the most about it?

Getting it done! The delivery dates for the WYAFFD chapters were tighter than I’d ever operated under before, so just meeting the deadlines was a challenge. 358 pages in 5 months. Phew! I had to put a lot of my life on hold to complete it. Luckily, my editor and copyeditor were not only funny but speedy, so we got into a productive groove and pulled it off. The positive energy buoyed me as I worked into the night and through the weekends.

I’m very proud of the book and what it offers writers, but most of all I’m pleased about the take-away factor. That is, I believe writers of all levels will take from the book solid, tangible techniques that they can apply to their writing immediately and see obvious results. Perhaps it’s the teacher in me, but application to one’s manuscript was very important to me from the get-go.

What’s your favorite piece of advice that you’ve learned for YA writers?

Writers of teen and tween fiction must cultivate a youthful narrative voice. Whether their writing first person, third, or omniscient, they need to respect and reflect the sensibility of their young readers. I devote an entire chapter to creating a youthful narrative voice in WYAFFD, but you can get the quick down-low from this free Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies printable Cheat Sheet.

Thanks, Deborah! Great information.

To celebrate the launch of WYAFFD, Deborah is giving away free chapter critiques and a grand prize of a full manuscript critique. So get over to DearEditor.com and enter.

Benefits of critique groups

Donna Bowman Bratton

Donna Bowman Bratton

My friend and fellow blogger Donna Bowman Bratton last week ran a series of posts about the benefits of critique groups and how to make the most of them. For her posts, Donna interviewed a bunch of writers inlcuding yours truly! (Yes, that’s me.)

Among the questions we answered were: What are the biggest challenges of critiquing someone else’s manuscript? What are the biggest challenges of having your own manuscript critiqued? How do you handle situations when you, as the author, disagree with the feedback? And others. And in the answers, there’s lots of great information and advice.

Part 1 features P.J. Hoover (“It’s okay to accept the feedback, say thank you, and choose not to use it”) and Meredith Davis (critique group “pushes me to allow my work to morph and change”).

Part 2 features Emily Kristin Anderson (“You’ve got to respect what your crit partners are writing — respect their style and their vision — in order to take it apart and help them put it back together.”) and Lindsey Lane (“Part of how a critique group functions for me is that their comments help me deepen my commitment to the manuscript”).

And Part 3 features Shelley Ann Jackson (“You can’t improve your writing without letting people read it.”), Cynthia Levinson (“Vague directions like ‘try heightening the language here’ or ‘show don’t tell’ aren’t nearly so helpful as ‘how about gash instead of cut’.”) and me (“Getting feedback helps me know if I’m on the right track with my story, if what I intend is coming across.”).

Click through to Donna’s blog for more great insight.

Write On!

John Green says it's ok to suck, and other links

Catching up on some of my blog reading today, I found a great YouTube video (I can’t display it on here, but check it out at Beth Revis’ Writing It Out blog, it’s worth it) with Looking For Alaska author John Green telling us what NaNoWriMo does:

  1. teaches us discipline because you need that if you’re going to write 50,000 words in a month (Note from me, especially in November. Seriously, NaNoWriMo creators, why did you choose November, which has Thanksgiving and the beginning of holiday shopping?), and
  2. it’s ok to suck in the first draft.

And for all writers who hate to revise, Green says that in all his books, he has cut 90% of the first draft in revisions, and some of the best parts of his book were written in revision. I saw Green talk at the SCBWI summer conference a few years ago, and, funnily enough, he was talking about revision then. So, he obviously really believes in it. And hey, if it works for him and he’s so successful, might be something in that. 😉

Now for some other cool links:

This one is from January but for some strange reason popped up in my Google Reader today. Publishers Weekly has an article on Penguin’s hopes for the U.S. debut of Catherine Fisher‘s Incarceron, and it looks like it’s one of those books children’s book writers should put on their must-read list. I’ve added it to mine.

Guide to Literary Agents has an interview with Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency, and Tamar takes books from middle-grade older and she really likes fantasy. She looks like a good one to check out.

And here’s a nice bit of economic news, with a great showing of how wonderful the children’s book world is. Amid all the reports of bookstores closing, Publishers Weekly reports that Michelle Witte, an associate editor with Gibbs Smith is planning to OPEN a children’s book store in Centerville, Utah. Fire Petal Books is set to open its doors next month thanks to some help from HarperCollins Children’s Books editor Molly O’Neill and author Neil Gaiman, who have both provided items for a fundraising auction. The auction ends on March 20, so go to the Fire Petal Books page and check it out to show your support, because we can never have too many children’s bookstores. Good luck, Michelle!

Write On!

Knowing when to submit

Revision update: Done!

Yes, I did make my goal of finishing my novel revision by the end of February. Yay! My husband played videogames with a friend on Saturday night, so I took the opportunity to do three chapters, then I got up early on Sunday to finish the book.

Now, the big question is, what next?

This was my fourth revision round for this book, and coming into it, I felt like all the major problems were fixed — character, plot, story — and that was confirmed by my beta readers. So this revision was about fixing awkward sentences, evaluating word choices, and muscling up the descriptions, and I had planned to send it out when I was done.

Now I’m done, and I’m not so sure.

I was in a similar position with my first book, except that I had done many more revisions. I felt good about the novel, but not as confident as I feel now about this new book. I had a little voice in my head saying, “Hmmm, are you sure about this?” And then a bigger voice said, “Sam, you’re being neurotic. It’s fine. It’s good. Let it go.”

As it turned out, I made one of the standard mistakes a lot of writers make in going out too early. My query letter wasn’t the best that it could be, and I got only a couple requests for the book. I did more research and realized the beginning of the book needed changes, which I did, but the older version had already gotten some rejections, and closed off those agents to me. Then I redid my query letter in a much better way, and got a lot more requests, but still the book wasn’t as solid as it should be. It was roundly rejected with lovely notes about how great the writing was but…

All this, I should have known. And looking back now, I did.

So, now I’m in the same position with my second book. But this time, I’m not going to make the same mistake. Sure, I’m anxious and excited to start submitting it, but I’ve worked hard, and I want to give the book its best possible chance.

In this fourth revision round, I made a lot of changes, small ones, but a lot of them. And my gut is saying, “Go through it one more time,” just in case my typing wasn’t as accurate that I hoped.

In the next week, I’m going to work on agent research, my query letter and synopsis, then I’ll do one more quick read-though before I send it out.

If my little voice gives me the go ahead. 🙂

How do you know when your novel is done?

Write On!

What do you do with your critique pages?

Revision update: Moving along smoothly. Having been at it for a couple days now, I’m enjoying being back in the story with the characters. On chapter 8 out of 29.

Doing this revision, I’m going through the stacks of notes from critique group sessions and my own notes on the print out of the entire manuscript and I’m feeling decidedly un-green.

Revising does take up a lot of paper — I just bought a box of 2,500 sheets as it was a lot cheaper in the long-run and I knew I’d go through it quite quickly, what with a 200-page novel and critique group sessions every two weeks using five copies of five pages.

But when I think about recycling these pages filled with the scribbled notes from me and others, I feel a tug in my heart that says, “No, don’t!”

I’ve still got a big stack of note-filled pages from my first novel under my desk. If I keep this up, I’m going to be in trouble after a few books. And yet, I’m reluctant to throw these out.

Is it nostalgia, am I a hoarder, or is this normal writer behavior toward their own words?

What do you do with your critiqued pages?

Write On!

Revising on paper or computer

Revision update: I buckled down yesterday and jumped in. More today.

I’m a computer hound. I have a laptop, and it’s like my good and trusty friend. It’s always with me. If I go on a trip, the computer is packed. When I went to the Austin SCBWI conference a few weeks ago, I stayed overnight with some friends and took my computer just in case. I didn’t end up using it, but I felt better knowing it was there.

My love for my computer isn’t because it’s a portal to the Internet. I’ve never been one to spend hours on Facebook or watching videos on YouTube (although, I do occasionally catch up with TV shows on Hulu). To me, my computer is my writing tool, and that’s why I love it — and feel lost without it.

So, when it’s time to revise my manuscripts — like I’m doing now — I find it hard, unnatural even to work on paper. I start on paper, but I usually end up getting back on the computer long before I’ve gotten to the end of my printed manuscript.

But working with paper on a revision has it’s benefits:

  • It allows you to see your work in a different way, as a reader instead of a writer.
  • It’s easier to make notes in the margins without doing actual changes.
  • Making notes instead of actual changes, allows you to think about the issue twice, once on the paper and again when you go back to your computer to input the revisions.

Still, for me, working with paper is hard. I wrote a blog post about this same subject last year, and although I stand by what I said then and say now, I always want to jump back onto the computer. That’s why I was amazed when author Lisa Graff, at the Austin SCBWI conference, said her revising strategy is:

  1. go through the manuscript on paper
  2. open a new Word document and retype the whole manuscript with changes
  3. print and repeat until she’s satisfied.

It works for her, and ultimately, every writer is different and must find what works for them — but, if you don’t try other things, how will you know whether it works for you? Of course, Lisa was an editor for five years too, so she knows a thing or two about revising. Maybe there’s something in this paper revising after all.

What about you? Do you prefer working with paper or computer when revising or writing your first draft?

Write On!

Getting unstuck in a revision

Manuscript update: I didn’t get too much done in my revision yesterday. Still on chapter one today.

A reader left a comment on yesterday’s post about being stuck during a revision. I’ve been there — I’m sure we all have — and it can be so frustrating. You want to write, you want to fix the problem, but nothing seems to work.

As I told Islesam yesterday, I fell into this predicament when I was revising my first novel. The middle was way more than saggy — it had huge gaping holes. I tried loads of different ways of writing the scenes, but nothing worked, nothing felt right, and my characters didn’t help. I’d ask them what they’d do next and they’d just look back at me and shrug.

Like Islesam, I tried taking a break and started to write my current novel, but after a while, I went back to the first manuscript and was still no closer to a solution. I realized that, although taking a break from a manuscript can be good at times, like in between revisions, when you’ve got a problem, the only way to fix it is to hunker down, roll up your sleeves and sweat your way through it.

What finally worked for me was realizing why I was stuck. I couldn’t fix the middle because, even though I knew what the end of the story was, I couldn’t picture them both as a whole story. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

To help give myself a better view of the bigger picture — the whole story — and how each of the scenes in the book fit in, I made a timetable. I drafted out a calendar of sorts with just Sunday through Saturday and week 1, 2, etc. Then I put the chapter number(s) for scenes in the days when they occured. When I was done, I could more easily see what was missing and where my characters were going at each part.

Here are some other tricks for getting unstuck in a revision:

  • New POV: Whether you’re writing in first person or third, the chapter you’re working on is most likely in the view point of one character. Try writing the chapter you’re stuck on in the point of view of anything character in the scene. Looking through someone else’s eyes might give you some ideas.
  • New document: When you save your manuscript in a new document and then revise, you’re just reworking your old version and are influenced by the words in front of you. Try starting a blank document and writing the scene, chapter or even the whole book from scratch. Author Lisa Graff does this in her revisions. For her third book, Umbrella Summer, she wrote 18 full drafts in this way. Sometimes she will copy and paste older versions of paragraphs or scenes into the new document, but for the most part, she rewrites as if the story is new. Starting from the beginning again, whether for just a scene or for the whole book, but this time with the knowledge of the whole story in your head, can open you up to new details and allow your characters to show you new directions. This tool helps you be a writer again rather than an editor, as if you’re writing the first draft for the first time and allowing new ideas to flow.

How do you get unstuck in revisions?

Write On!