Book reviews & writing tips from a wannabe YA writer
Can you trust me? Compare our taste!
Title: Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Finished Novel
Author: James Scott Bell
Why I Read It: I was looking for a practical guide to editing my first draft.
Summary: A national bestselling author and writing teacher lays out a plan for revising your novel’s first draft.
Review: I wish I could roll up all the tips in this book into some Silly Putty and stick it directly on my brain.
So far, I’ve flipped through about 20 different revision books. Most of those books were too abstract in their advice, and some others (while excellent) were focused on line editing. I needed a book to guide me on the macro edit—pacing, character development, setting, voice, and so on.
This book has all that and more. Including a revision checklist at the back. I am a checklist sort of a girl. (Sometimes in the morning, while I’m in bed waiting for my daughter to wake up next to me, I’ll start composing my checklist for the day in my head and then obsessively repeat the items over and over so I don’t forget them before I get to paper & pen.)
The advice in this book is practical, with writing exercises that aren’t just busy work. It’s clear they’ll get you further along on your revision goals.
As the author suggests, I’m going to expand the checklist to include all the other nuggets throughout the book I want to be sure to check for. But I’m out of the school mindset, so I’ve otherwise drawn a blank on how best to absorb all this wonderful knowledge.
Here’s one tip I plan to use soon:
Then, after some cooling off, produce a summary of the novel. A synopsis, but one’s that subject to change. Because you’re going to try to make it better and deeper. You may even change it significantly.
The summary should be no more than 2,000 to 3,000 words, and you should produce several versions. …If you produce several of these summaries, and finally fine-tune the best version, the method will give you a roadmap for an organic second draft.
You can bet I’m going to read the rest of the Write Great Fiction series.
Your Turn: What tricks do you use to learn and internalize new things from a book you’re reading?
Did You Like This Book? Try: