Overhauling a 80,000 word manuscript is a daunting process. You can’t catch everything at once. That’s why revising is a process that involves layering.
Your first draft no doubt contains many writing strengths. It also has a lot of rough edges. Don’t despair! Be proud of what you’ve accomplished!
And get ready to rip and tear.
Be brave with the delete key, keeping these tips in mind. 😉
Layers to consider:
Thefirst pass through your rough draft should focus solely on what to keep and what to chuck. So, you’ve got a cute scene where your main character has a cutsy moment with her cat. If that’s the only scene with the cat, bye bye kitty. Your main character takes a shower, basking in lavender soap. FAB. But if she’s not joined by the hottie who she’s jonesing for or she’s not washing blood out of her hair to get rid of evidence connecting her to a crime, then you don’t need it.
Basically, EVERY SCENE NEEDS TO ADVANCE THE PLOT. If it doesn’t, chuck it! (I promise, it’ll be okay.)
Once you’ve determined what can stay and you’ve deleted the rest, then you can focus on the following layers:
Characterization–Have you described your characters so people can picture them? Have you made them interesting and quirky? Are they a cliche? (I hope not!) 😉
Consume Milk Chocolate
Character Arcs–How does your main characters viewpoint or perspective change as the story progresses?
Consume chocolate mousse
Description–Can the reader envision your setting or how your characters look? Make sure this is balanced! Too much of description can bog the pace…too little can leave the reader confused.
Consume chocolate cake
Emotion/Conflict–SHOW, don’t TELL! We want to feel what the characters are feeling, not be told, right? And if you want to keep a reader hooked, make sure the characters are at odds somehow.
Consume Death by Chocolate ice cream
Dialogue–Tighten, tighten, tighten! We don’t need the “Hi, how are ya?’s” cluttering up a page. Get to the point and be succinct.
Consume hot cocoa–whit or milk chocolate!
Action Scenes–Use strong words/verbs and make it clear.
Consume a dark chocolate truffle…or ten.
Tension–You need this on EVERY page!!!! (If there’s no tension, it may be a clue to nix something, right?)
Consume chocolate covered caramels until your fillings fall out.
Plots and sub-plots–This is something that outliners tackle ahead of time, but could still need a lot of revising depending on how the characters dictate their own story. The plot is the skeleton of your story, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Use sub-plots (maybe with secondary characters) to keep the interest alive.
Consume a mocha frappuccino.
Grammar and sentence structure–This is KEY of course. Vary your sentence length. Use the grammar to perfect your voice. Use as few words as possible. If you’ve got a lot of verbiage, you could be slowing down your pace!
Consume your body weight in M&M’s!
You don’t have to follow these layers in order, but I would recommend saving the grammar and sentence structure until later because why spend time perfecting a sentence if it’s gonna end up getting nixed because you don’t need that scene?
Lydia answers Sarah’s sisterhood question about expectations today. Check it out!
Lydia, Sarah, and I are converging to make the perfect storm trifecta of blog posts regarding Munchausen’s Syndrome.
Named after the great Baron von Munchausen, who purportedly told elaborate and fictional stories about himself, Munchausen’s Disorder is part of a class of disorders called Facticious Disorders.
The DSM-IV criteria for Facticious Disorders include:
Intentionally producing or feigning symptoms of a medical or mental illness
External motivators (as found in Malingering) (such as wanting three hots and a cot) are absent
Motivation for such behavior is to adapt the “sick role”
Munchausen Syndrome Factoids:
Individuals suffering from Munchausen Syndrome have a particularly chronic and severe course
They tend to have medical knowledge or even training in the medical field
They will intentionally infect themselves or overdose on medication such that medical intervention is necessary. Examples include: putting urine, feces, or dirty water in a wound; taking insulin to cause a drop in blood sugar; taking Warfarin (Coumadin), a blood thinner, to cause bruising and bleeding
They will often submit to or even demand invasive procedures and surgeries. A telltale sign of someone with Munchausen’s Syndrome is multiple scars over their bodies, particularly the abdomen
They will often move from town to town, hospital to hospital, especially when they are “found out”
The risks of having Munchausen’s Syndrome:
Feigning illness leads to unnecessary and sometimes risky procedures
Infecting a wound or overdosing on medications could be life-threatening
A patient often lies about real medical issues or allergies and therefore could be given treatment that will harm or even kill them
Because of multiple, unnecessary visits to hospitals, they are more at risk of developing iatrogenic illness
They often refuse corroboration with other treatment providers, leaving gaps in history that may be significant for a clinician to know
So, how do we help people with Munchausen’s Syndrome?
It’s VERY difficult. Most do not admit to their behavior and become very angry when confronted. They sign out AMA (Against Medical Advice) and seek another hospital/clinician. They are often not even remotely interested in psychiatric help. They have little insight (internal understanding) of their illness and behavior. In other words, they aren’t able to see what makes it risky or potentially harmful.
The individual in the photo below had over 40 unnecessary surgeries. Turns out, he did end up developing colon cancer. Talk about the case of the boy who cried wolf!
Remember, these posts are for WRITING PURPOSES ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical or psychiatric treatment or advice.