My Fave 3 Revision Tips | With Author Jenn Johansson
Thanks for having me! I thought I’d stop by the blog today to give everyone a couple of my handy-dandy tips for revising. First of all, let me start by saying that revising is my absolute favorite part of the writing process. Taking something I’ve spent so much time on and finding the changes to really polish it and make it shine is especially rewarding.
Plus, I don’t usually get stuck like I’ve been known to do in the drafting process…you know, that walled-in, can’t find the right answer feeling that makes running into a burning building sound like a good idea in comparison?
Who am I kidding? You’re writers, of course you know.
So, on to the revision tips:
1 – Get over your “feelings” already: There are many words that tend toward passive voice and generic action. Some popular ones are: feel, look, stare, thought, smile, frown, laugh, gaze, etc. Run a search on these and replace them with active voice and interesting action as much as possible. Everyone has their lazy, fallback words that show up a few times in every chapter—mine are sick and look. My characters feel sick and ill a lot, and apparently look at things while they’re doing it. Don’t ask me why, I’m still trying to understand. Find your fallbacks and get creative with your replacements.
2 – Take it full circle: I got this tip from my agent, the brilliant Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. The gist of it is, take your main character from your last scene, and plop him/her back into your first scene. Would this version of your character behave differently in the same situation? How? If not, then your character arc has gone nowhere. This is a great way to determine whether you’re really allowing your mc to grow throughout the story.
3 – Is that you, Mom?: Everyone has their own way of speaking. If you close your eyes, you can usually still identify those close to you just from their voice and the way they speak. The same should be true of your characters. Have a friend read random dialogue lines from your book out loud and see if you can recognize the character speaking from the voice and phrasing. If not, go in and make them distinct. All of your characters should be a little different…the same with their voices.
These are three of my favorite revising tips. I hope they help you as much as they help me…and…um…may the force be with you?
J. R. Johansson is a YA author represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her debut novel, INSOMNIA, just sold in Italy and Germany. She maintains a writing blog at www.jennjohansson.blogspot.
What are your favorite revision tips? Anything to add to Jenn’s great list?
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