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Posts Tagged ‘revision polish’

I know how to polish writing. To make it shiny and bright. I can fix tenses. I can punctuate. I can find power verbs to replace wimpy words. I can whittle and tighten.

I can spit and polish.

Spit and Polish: extreme attention to cleanliness, orderliness, smartness of appearance, and ceremony often at the expense of operational efficiency

Yep, that’s me.

I am waist-deep in a big revision. Big chunks–several chapters at a time–are going by the wayside. Cut. Chopped. Dumped. Gone gone gone.

Oh how they shine in my cut file. Word by word, they are pretty. But that’s not what the story needs right there.

I squirmed a bit when I read agent Rachelle Gardner’s post on craft vs. story yesterday.

But hopefully I’m learning to put away the rag (and spit) and to concentrate on the story.

All writers MUST read this amazing poem by author Kate Messner.

Do I need to say it again?

All writers MUST read this amazing poem by author Kate Messner.

And then, write.

Sarah Wones Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

 

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Yesterday I attended a polish in revision workshop led by Mary E. Pearson. It was even better than I’d hoped. Besides being an incredible writer (A Room on Lorelei Street; The Adoration of Jenna Fox; The Miles Between) – Mary is an articulate and thoughtful teacher.

In preparation for the workshop, we were asked to bring first and last chapters of our manuscripts AND a flap jacket synopsis as well.

Writing my flap jacket synopsis was excruciatingly difficult. I struggled with deciding what details to include. And how to make my story sound a little bit interesting and maybe even worth reading. During the workshop Mary explained that she writes her flap jacket copy about half-way through her manuscript to help her stay focused and to remember what her story is about. She sees it as “a beacon and guide during revision.” It might change as she  goes on, but she keeps this in mind as she writes. Ideally, it poses “possibility” and “conveys the original what if that got you fired up to write the story in the first place.”

She had us exchange our flap jackets with other participants so that we could synthesize the information given into a one-liner. This statement includes the title, the main character and their struggle. Coming up with the one-liner was difficult too, but the idea was that it would be easier to do for someone else’s story since you don’t have the same attachment to minuscule details. We shared the one-liners and  I heard some really intriguing story premises. Mary’s suggestion is to keep this statement posted in your work place so you remember what story you are writing.

(I am trying to ignore the fact that the person who had mine could not do this for me. At all. The only one that couldn’t be done. Sigh.)

She also gave us tips on how to make our first and last chapters pop. I love her reasoning:

  • First chapter determines if your book will be read
  • Last chapter determines if it will be remembered

It’s such a treasure to hear something in a way that clicks – to think that this makes sense. In fact it’s brilliant. And  maybe, just maybe, I can do this. To think that it “must be the sound of possibility…” ( A Room on Lorelei Street, page 266.)

Thanks for the fantastic workshop, Mary Pearson and San Diego SCBWI!

Sarah Wones Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

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