Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I’ve never written a manuscript I didn’t revise many, many times. I’ll look for different things at different times. I’ll have a list in mind. The “Do I have this? Do I have that? list. Some examples of questions I might ask myself to clarify and strengthen the manuscript are—

Does this scene have enough physical detail?
Does it have too much physical detail?
Is it clear what my characters want?
Is it clear what they don’t want?
Is it clear what’s in the way of what they want?
Is it clear what their strengths/weaknesses are?
Is there an arc to character?
What’s the main conflict? What’s the conflict in this scene?
What’s the big picture? What are some themes I’m after?
Is the voice clear throughout?
Where are the weak sentences?
Is there any place I got lazy?
Is each chapter pushing the story forward?
Is something at stake in the story?
Is the pacing right?

My point here is that there’s a time during revision where you have to be more analytical. The story is in place and the characters are real and your manuscript feels like all the elements are fitting together. To get to this evolutionary moment in the manuscript, you had to depend on your creative side: instinct and imagination and inspiration. But now you need the analytical side that evaluates. You have to distance yourself a little and look at the manuscript in a different way. Both sides are usually needed to make manuscripts successful.

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