I will tell you from the get go that this post is a little self-serving. See I’m working on a novel. It’s a work of contemporary romantic fiction set in a small town in New Hampshire. Earlier this year, I completed my sh*tty first draft (h/t to Anne Lamott and Bird by Bird).
I’ve been working on my second draft for a while now. In April, I mapped out a plan that would have me completing my 2nd revision mid-September. Unfortunately, there was an extensive break during back to back to back family emergencies over the summer. My life has returned (mostly) to its regularly scheduled chaos and I’ve rolled up my sleeves, hunkered down and am truly focused on getting through this revision. I have a few resources and techniques I’ve been using, but since I’m a long time writer, first time novelist, I really want this to be as strong as it can be before I take the next step. I’m going to share my list in the hopes you’ll share your resource list.
K.M Weiland is an award winning author of historical and fantasy fiction. She is also has several well respected writing how-to books along with an entire website devoted to helping writers. I’ve worked through her How to Outline Your Story Workbook and am most of the way through the workbook for How to Structure Your Story. Plotters would probably have completed these books and THEN written the story, but I’m usually possessed by an idea that MUST COME OUT NOW then I go back and clean it up. This is true of my non-fiction writing as well. I guess this makes me a pantser
Jami Gold writes award winning paranormal romance and urban fantasy. On her web site, she provides some fabulous insight on using story planning worksheets a.k.a beat sheets to strengthen your story. Again these could be used prior to typing a single word, but they are very helpful for those writing and revising in genre fiction where word count is a factor. Her worksheets are based on the teachings of well-known writing gurus like Larry Brooks, Blake Snyder and Michael Hauge. She’s taken their principles and formatted them into a practical spreadsheet. She offers free, downloadable templates in Excel and a few are even available in Scrivener format.
Dwight Swain and Scene & Sequel
This past weekend was the monthly meeting of the New Hampshire Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America and our President, the fabulous Christyne Butler gave a great refresher (for me anyway) Scene & Sequel presentation. Scene & Sequel, is concept developed by Dwight Swain and refers to the idea of having something happen in your story (a scene). Then giving your hero/heroine or protagonist a chance to react to what happened, ponder the meaning and make a decision based on this new information or feelings (sequel). This need not be a lengthy occurrence. It might only be a paragraph, or it might be whole chapter, it depends on your story. Scene & Sequel is another tool for adjusting your structure to insure you pacing isn’t too fast or too slow.
And of course, I have all of the slides and my notes from Angela James’ workshop Before You Hit Send.
I’m kind of a perfectionist, and while I am aware, that it is possible to over edit one’s own work, I’m not there yet. Frankly, I ain’t even CLOSE. So, dear reader, here is where the post takes a turn towards the self serving. I need YOU. I need your help.
What techniques do you utilize when revising your fiction?
Do you have an tips you’d like to share?
Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com. She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently writing her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.