6 Tips on Revision


Having just finished a first draft of my novel, the thing that’s most on my brain right now is revision, and the question of how much. I don’t have a great answer for that, but let’s look at a few things:

1. Revision is necessary. It is often said that the best works are those that are written in revision. Early on in my writing, I was against it, and had the mindset that what I wrote was beautiful and glorious and perfect! I’ve learned my lesson. Revision is a great way to really focus in on the language, to stop and dwell with a passage or phrase and make it truly what you want it to be. Revision is also necessary for large plot consistencies and making a character’s arc what it needs to be.

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Changing Endings

steps-1452973-640x944What does your main character need to change? First you need to know what kind of change your character needs.

That’s where I was lacking a little bit. My ending was fuzzy – I figured I would figure it out when I got there – but it included a kind of intellectual awakening for my main character. The problem? He’s already an intellectual guy. Continue reading

Finished First Draft

andyBig day! I finished the first draft of my novel last night (though with the way I’ve been editing as I’ve gone along, it feels like maybe a second draft). Many folks have asked me what happens now, and here’s the answer:

  • I get some people to read it and give me feedback
  • I do a little more research to make sure things are set
  • I continue to polish, polish, polish
  • Once I feel like I’ve got something good, I start shopping for agents

I’ve always known that I wanted to go the traditional publishing route, for many reasons. I’m absolutely not sure of the timeline on this. I keep saying I’ll polish this winter and spring, and start looking for agents in spring/summer. Then we’ll go from there!

I’ll write about this in another post, but I managed to write this novel while working fulltime (40 hours) and doing a parttime master’s degree. Still not sure how I managed that. And this novel only took me 14 months to write, too. I started it last October while I was in Chicago at the STORY conference after having taken a whole year off from writing. This is what I jumped back in to, and I never looked back.

More news to come!

3 Rules for Writing a Novel

maughamI came across this quote the other day from W. Somerset Maugham: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (To be clear, I came across this quote on Pinterest, so who knows if Mr. Maugham even said it…) First, there is truth to this. Writing a novel is a completely subjective experience, and every single person will do it differently: at a different time of day, at different speeds, with different prep work, etc. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t try to give you three rules for writing a novel. Here goes: Continue reading

Cure for Writer’s Block: Training Your Novel

Thinking. Daydreaming. Imagining. Reenacting. Always priming the pump.

Often, when we sit down to write we put our fingers to the keyboard and expect the story to come out without doing the legwork to bring the story about. Are you constantly thinking about your characters so often that you know them, that you know how they would react in a scene? Continue reading

Never Lose the “What If”

How do you go about coming up with the idea for a novel, or any creative story for that matter? The most important tool in a writer’s toolbox is the question “What if…?” and I am not the first to give this advice. The creation of a story happens when you ask “What if…?” What if a stranger appeared in this person’s mundane life to challenge him? What if a normal voyage suddenly went terribly wrong? What if people lived forever? What if these two types of personalities were put in a room together?

targetship1That’s how the idea for my novel came about. Growing up we would vacation on Cape Cod, and we would always see the Target Ship, which was an old World War II Liberty Ship that was scuttled in Cape Cod Bay in the ’50s and used for target practice by the Navy before it was left to rot. So every year we would go to the beach on the bay and see this old, rotting ship in the distance, and it became a source of fascination for me. At the beach we happened to go to were a few houses with unencumbered views of the water. One time I thought, “What if there was a man who had served on that ship during WWII, and who loved that ship and was obsessed with that ship so much that he moved to one of these houses to be near it?” And my novel was born.

What situations do you find yourself in? What things fascinate you? What can you ask “What if…?” to? You may find yourself suddenly with a story to tell.