To get started with the revision process, we wrote a summary and looked at the whole piece. Next, Julia Green (whose revision workshop I’m basing these posts on) advises moving to the “line level,” where every line or sentence should be relevant to the summary, and noticing whether each bit of the text advances the story.
Line by Line
If something doesn’t contribute to the story, think about and look for instances where you’re bored or beginning to skim. If you’re bored, your readers will be, too. Mark that spot.
Are there places where things happen too fast—or too slow? Do you expect something to happen, but it doesn’t?
Do you wonder about something that’s missing and begin questioning the characters or text? Jot down those questions.
Does the piece need more background information or a more specific setting to ground the reader?
What about the dialogue and action? Would your character (a frustrated teen-aged girl, a compassionate dad, a mugger, a ______) really speak or behave this way?
Is the character’s motivation or desire clear?
Bird by Bird
This is a lot to look at and digest here. SO start with just one thing; don’t try to fix everything at once. Start with one area that feels accessible.
Do you need to go back and look at your character work-up to see his motivation, what he holds dear, his height and weight, or ways he would never behave?
Would your story benefit from you listening in on folks’ conversations or watching a movie or YouTube video of similar characters to catch their speech patterns and vocabulary?
Maybe beginning to write the answers to the questions that arose would be helpful as a starting point.
Try anything. Everything will reveal something about the piece and doing something is better than doing nothing.
Look for one more upcoming post on Revision. Bird. By. Bird. ~ xoA
Stock photo. Photographer unknown.