Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Radical revision

What do you do when a chapter isn't working? The characterization is good, the language, the actions, the emotions--they're all there. And readers think it's good, too, but... well, not quite ready yet.

Clearly, it's time to do something radical.

What if you change the order of the scene? What is the scene really about? What if you lead with that element and work in all the rest later? Or just cut everything else?

Having a hard time breathing? Yeah, that was me last week when I got this exact advice from a writing friend.

But the more I thought about Ros' advice, the more I loved how big picture it was, how out of the box, and how radical. 

Sometimes I get so caught up in my literary self, changing one word here, and imagining it recolors a whole paragraph, that I can so easily lose that big picture view. Maybe I should be shaking things up a bit more.

My writing friend (and fellow Bath Spa grad) Ros said that she frequently finds when a scene's not working it's because she has the right events and emotions, but her brain somehow put them in the wrong order. She admits this might be just her brain, but I kind of suspect my brain does this, too, only I haven't been smart enough to notice it yet. By scrambling scenes around, Ros says she can then re-envision the scene, even heighten its effect, without changing the arc, and, more importantly, not having to write anything new.

How grateful I am for brilliant writing friends. By the way, while she doesn't (yet!) blog, you can find Ros on Twitter.

Any other radical revision tips to share?


  1. You reminded me how important good feedback is. I just got one of those. You also pointed to letting it sit for a bit. Spot-on.
    Seems your friend got your wheels spinning, and it's a go.

    1. Yeah, funny how sometimes we just need someone else's eyes... and yes, Ros definitely got the wheels spinning, thank goodness! Glad to hear you got some good advice, too!


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