December 13, 2016

Overwhelmed by a Huge Revision?

Apple on books with text: Deepen Your Craft with Resident Writing Coach Jami Gold (at Writers Helping Writers)

Today marks my first post over at Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s Writers Helping Writers site as a Resident Writing Coach. Yay! Check it out below…

Those of you who hang out here regularly know that in my *cough* spare time, I offer developmental editing services. That means I look for big-picture story issues in my clients’ manuscripts.

Over my years of editing, I’ve found that many big-picture elements are related: A problem in one area of our story often weakens other areas as well. Luckily, the reverse is also true.

In my editorial feedback, I try to explain how any issues in their story are related—how fixing one element will shore up the other sections with weaknesses. Understanding those relationships is important for any revision, but it’s especially helpful if we’re facing an overwhelming revision.

If we get feedback from an in-depth beta reader or a developmental editor that points out several big issues, we might get discouraged. Should we give up on our story? Is it too broken?

At the very least, we might struggle with trying to decide how and where to start. That’s where understanding how story elements relate can help.

With an in-depth grasp on how our story’s elements interrelate and feed on each other, we’ll better be able to see how fixing one aspect will strengthen the others. Or we might be able to tackle several problems at once, making our revision easier and more efficient. *smile*

I love analyzing these big-picture aspects of storytelling, so I’m super excited to dig into this topic over at WHW today. If you missed my announcement back in October about my new gig there as a Resident Writing Coach, here’s part of what I posted:

“If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m a huge fan of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s work. They’re the genius duo behind the Emotion Thesaurus, the Positive and Negative Trait Thesaurus books, the recent Urban and Rural Setting Thesaurus books, and the Writers Helping Writers (which started as The Bookshelf Muse) and the One Stop for Writers websites.

Yeah, geniuses. *smile*

I’m lucky enough to have been friends with them since early in their Bookshelf Muse days—long before their first book released. I wrote an entry for their old Bookshelf Muse version of the Weather Thesaurus about dust storms and monsoons all the way back in 2011…

If you didn’t see their announcement, check it out:

“One of the best ways to evolve one’s writing skills is to experience a variety of teachings and viewpoints.

Really, we’re all looking for the same thing: the brightest nuggets. The best bits of writing help.

We put our heads together and identified some of the best sources of writing information online… And then we begged bribed asked if they would like to join us here at WHW as resident writing coaches.”

And wow, did they ever assemble a fantastic group. I’m on the list with Michael Hauge, James Scott Bell, and a bunch of other super-talented authors. *looks again* Michael Hauge, you guys! I love his work!”

Now it’s finally my turn for my guest post there, and I hope you’ll come join me:

Writers Helping Writers: Resident Writing Coach Program
The Revision Circle: Does My Story Have Too Many Problems?

Have you ever received a lot of in-depth, story-level feedback? Did you find it overwhelming? How do you tackle big revisions? Have you noticed how goals, stakes, motivations, conflict, tension, pacing, and relatable characters are all related? Do you have any thoughts on this topic?

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Comments — What do you think?

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Pirkko Rytkonen

Perfect timing for me as I’ve just received feedback from Beta readers…some were more detailed and others general. I’m rewriting and editing my very first novel so this is going to be so helpful. Keeping the goals and motivations in front of me will help. I now have to go back to see if there is a goal in each scene. A great post for me now.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara

Always easier to see a flaw in someone else’s work… of course it works both ways.

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