So here’s what I want to know–Are you writing like crazy people? How is that NaNoWriMo thing going? I hope well, huh? I think I wrote ten words last week, so I have some real catching up to do. I’m in the murky middles and beginning to see that I have way more–WAY MORE–to do to make this novel work.
We’re on our last ten questions to help with revision (after this 50,000 word novel you all are working on is done). I have no idea what I will write next week! Perhaps nothing.
Here they are–
41. Are the names you’re using so unusual that reader will have a hard time keeping characters separated? Watch making all names weird, don’t start each with the same letter, or have them rhyme or etc because you may confuse your reader. You don’t want the reader turning back in the book trying to remember who is who (or is that whom?).
42. Are characters distinct—or do they all sound, act and talk the same? Do make sure each character is distinct. Wonder what I’m talking about? Read BELLE PRATER’S BOY.
43. Do you listen to the advice of others, or argue? We’ve talked about how too many cooks can spoil the broth–but so can not listening to anyone’s advice. If you hear the same criticism over and over, people may be seeing a flaw in your work. A good reader really can help you as a writer.
44. Do sentences flow or do you stumble when you (or better yet, others) read them? Strong writing has a rhythm. When you read your work out loud, it should flow. If you stumble or have to reread something you’ve written trying to make the sentence more clear on the next reading, you’ve done something wrong. If a reader stumbles they fall out of the story and you don’t want that.
45. Have you gone through the steps of self-critique I gave you a few posts back? It goes like this: Self-Critique
1. read silently on computer screen
2. read out loud from screen
3. print and read silently, making comments on the paper as you go
4. print and read out loud, continue to make comments to yourself
5. have someone else read this out loud where you can hear them when they make mistakes (Why are they stumbling? Why is the read not going smoothly? Watch and take note of this. It’s important.)
6. get final comments by another individual you trust to do a good job
46. Are you writing stereotypes? Not all princesses are blond, not are Southerners are rednecks and not all poor people are drug abusers. Remember, good writing surprises us.
47. Do you respect your reader? Our readers are smart. Never, ever forget that. You should never dumb anything down so a mid-grade or teen reader will ‘get it.’ They will ‘get it’ all right and set your book aside.
48. Do you show, not tell? You hear this all the time, but why is it important? If you tell me something, I’ll forget it sure (especially as I get older!). But if you show me, I’ll remember. I’ll be a part of whatever it is. I’ll have a picture in my brain to refer back to. Instead of telling me that your character is lazy, show me–with words that paint a picture.
49. Are you waiting for the muse? Don’t. Work hard. Really hard. Even if you get stuck in something you can write yourself free. Throw in an obstacle, make it harder on your character–or back up (the way I have heard some writers do) to where the problem started. But don’t sit around waiting to be inspired. If I did that, I’d write one or two words a day.
50. During rewrite are you choosing the strongest words you can? Make each word count, watch out for those ‘ly’ words, watch out for cliche. Remember, this is your world and you want it at beautiful (or as ugly, or as just right) as you can get it. Handle words properly and you will succeed.
Rewriting is hard but important. If you’re dedicated, you’ll have a well-written story that has a nice, strong plot, too.
Says Anne Enright (THE GATHERING), “Only bad writers think that their work is really good.” Says Carol Lynch Williams, “They think this or that is the editor’s job when this and that and all the rest is the author’s job. Write your best story possible. Don’t leave anything for an editor to do.”
Says Neil Gaiman (THE GRAVEYARD BOOK) “Fix it.” Says Carol Lynch Williams, “See, I told ya.”
Says Esther Freud (LUCKY BREAK), “Editing is everything. Cut until you can cut no more. What is left often springs into life.” Says Carol Lynch Williams, “I agree!”
2 responses to “We’re Done with the 50 Hints (After Today, I Mean!)”
These have all been so helpful! I’ll have to go over them again this week as I start revisions on the manuscript I brought to WIFYR.
I’m also going to have to direct a friend here. She’s working on revisions, too, and I’m sure she’ll find these helpful.
I, too, appreciate your revision list. Next month, when NaNo is over, I can concentrate on revising the novel I finished last month. Yay!