We previously looked into how to use the feedback you’ve received. Today we’ll explore rewriting and recreating your manuscript as you move through the revision process.
Catching the idea
Evaluating the idea
Growing the idea
Reading the draft
Re-vision and self-editing
Critique group feedback
Rewriting or recreating
<<GO TO Critique group feedback, if needed>>
The revision process is more than correcting grammar, restructuring sentences, and tying up loose ends of the story. It’s more than cutting scenes or passages and adding new ones. What I’m referring to with rewriting and recreating is a combination of using the feedback you’ve received and your own intuition of what’s just not quite working with your story. Sometimes a writer needs to step back and look at the big picture. Ask: What’s bugging you about the story? What isn’t meshing?
Here’s a list of items you might want to consider when rewriting (recreating) your story. If you can’t answer these questions, or there’s something not “right” about this aspect of your story, explore to see if you can discover how you might fix this.
What’s the overall theme of your story?
What mood and tone is your story presenting to the reader?
Does the number of characters you have in your story work to move the story forward?
Is it possible to remove a character without major impact to the story?
Is it possible to combine two or more of the characters into one character that serves the same function?
Do all the subplots weave into the theme of your story? Do they enhance the main plot?
Is the POV character(s) the best fit for the story? (Ask this same question per scene: Is this the right POV character for this scene?)
Does the chosen POV work in the best interest of the story?
Does each scene have a purpose? What does it do to move the story forward?
Are there any characters doing something in the story that is not justified?
What is the goal/want/need and the conflict for each of the main characters?
Consider the settings for each scene: Does the setting work for or against the story? What would happen if the scene happened in a different setting?
Is there conflict throughout the story?
Opening (Act I): What happens in the opening that will make the reader want to read more of the story? Do you at least hint at what the upcoming conflict will be?
Middle (Act II): Are the characters and character relationships deepened? Are there points where the story gets too slow?
Ending (Act III): Are all the story threads concluded? (NOTE: If the book is part of a serial story, not all threads will be concluded.) Are the readers left satisfied?
Are there sections that give the reader lots of background information?
Is your description too generic? Is your description woven into other story elements? Look out for stand-alone description that isn’t working on at least two levels.
Does the dialog add to the tension or suspense of the story/scene? What are you trying to give to the reader through the dialog?
What might be a way to increase a conflict?
Do your major characters have secrets?
Do your characters have emotional responses to the story events? To other characters?
How have you made use of at least one of the five senses in each scene?
What discomfort have you put your main characters through?
Keep asking yourself questions until you get a better idea of what your intuition is trying to tell you. Talk it through with other people, especially others who know your story. Try brainstorming, using diagrams, or journaling to get to the root issues. Do whatever it takes, because when you figure this out, you’ll have a better story to give to your readers.
Don’t just revise your story – work to recreate it in a way that will have your readers wanting more.
Question for today: Have you experienced knowing that something is just not “right” with a story? Share your experience! How did you discover what the root issue was and what did you do to fix it?