Monday, November 26, 2012

Free Expressions Part V- The Revision Toolbox

In this last blog on the Free Expressions writing seminar, I will highlight a few revision techniques provided by the YA Muses. This group of writers met at the  Big Sur writing conference in 2009 and decided to stay in touch. Although all were unpublished in the YA world, they formed a writing blog to highlight their journeys and within a year they had eleven book contracts between them. 

TaliaVance, Donna Cooner, Veronica Rossi, Bret Ballou
(Katherine Longshore was unable to attend the seminar)
Talia Vance, author of Silver,  creates a chart for each character and outlines scenes with the main character and each minor character. In addition she:
  1.  Looks at the character arc for all characters
  2. Looks at the relationship arc between characters 
  3. Considers where a minor character is in relation to the main character
  4. Cuts scenes
  5. Sketches out additional scenes
This helpful post of her revision checklist  for WriteOnCon includes many of the points she made during the seminar. 

Donna Cooner, author of Skinny, talked about the importance of creating QBCD: A Quick Brief Character Description when the character first comes into the book. If these introductions are well-crafted they will stick in a reader's mind. Donna uses pictures that she pins to a character board hanging next to her desk.

I played with this idea and came up with: 

Lillie- her skin the color of duck egg shells, black hair tightly curled at the roots
Kate – innocent hazel eyes looking out from a farm face
Sam – dark mahogany skin that glows and throbs outwards, catching you in its circle of beauty

I'm not sure if these will stick, but these word pictures (as well as images I am collecting on my desktop and in Pinterest) will help me portray my characters consistently.

Veronica Rossi, author of Under the Never Sky, recommends setting attainable goals for each month.  "Set yourself up for success," she said. "Give yourself a daily or weekly page or word count. Track your progress. Be as visual and concrete as possible." 

Veronica printed out each draft of her novel and put it in a binder. This way she could visually see her progress. Similarly, after editing or revising a page she folds the page over; a reminder to herself that the page was "done." (At least for that draft!)

To keep herself pumped up, she re-reads old work. "When you get close to a manuscript you're looking for all the mistakes and weaknesses. You get so close that these are the only things you see. Reading old writing can remind you of the point, which is to tell a good story."

Bret Ballou, who writes middle grade fantasy adventures, suggested that distance (the macro level) makes the author more objective. He recommended beginning with an outline and then reevaluating that outline after the draft was done. "Big issues may be resolved with well-crafted, perfectly placed lines."

Bret suggested that writers should break the revision process into buckets in order to focus on one thing at a time. His buckets include: 
  1. Plot: step back to see the whole picture
  2. Key world details can be cleverly placed without ripping or destroying entire passages.
  3. View your ms. in a different font, color, margins, or line spacing in order to step away and see it differently.
  4. Listen to your work (for example, on a Kindle) in order to uncover glaring issues.
For more on Mental Revision, see Bret's contribution to WriteOnCon

How am I going to incorporate these ideas into my work? 
1. Set new goals.
2. Be inspired by the YA Muse blog.
3. Pull out some old stories that never saw the light of day but might be perfect for my grandkids. 
4. Review ALL my Free Expression notes when my own work is ready to be revised!

If this series has captured your interest, you'll be happy to hear that Lorin Oberweger and her competent staff will be returning to Charlotte, NC on October 14-20, 2013.  Check the Free Expressions website for more information.

Here are the four previous blogs in this series:
Free Expressions Takeaway Part I- Voice and Deep Point of View
Free Expressions Takeaway Part II- Deep Scene
Free Expressions Takeaway Part III- World Building
Free Expressions Takeaway Part IV- The Quintessential Query


Lolo said...

Really loved this presentation, though Katy was missed! Those YA Muses know a thing or two! ;-)

Lolo said...

Really loved this presentation, though Katy was missed! Those YA Muses know a thing or two! ;-)

Linda Phillips said...

Thanks for this informative series. I hope the readers enjoyed it as much as we did by being there!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Lorin and LInda. I would have liked to meet Katy too--another time, I hope!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for so neatly encapsulating this amazing conference!

Carol Baldwin said...

My pleasure, Rebecca!

Linda A. said...

What a great ending to a wonderful series. I think this one is going to especially be helpful. I appreciate you and the folks who allowed you to share their ideas. Thanks again.

Carol Baldwin said...

THanks, Linda. So glad you have enjoyed these posts!

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