Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Revisus Maximus

I thought, since I've been talking about and doing (oh, the doing!) revisions, I'd make a list of the things I look at/for as I revise a manuscript. I'm breaking it down into categories, but I consider them all simultaneously as I read. (These are not in any order of precedence, by the way.)

Have I written the love story so that it make sense that those particular characters would fall in love? Have I made it clear why that particular man is attracted to that particular woman (and it has to be for more than looks!).

General story-telling -- any slow/boring bits? Out they go. Are the scenes in the best possible order? Is every scene in the best possible point of view? If I change POV, is it a smooth transition? Are the chapter endings compelling, so that the reader will want to continue?

Get rid of passive verbs if possible.

Is the prose relatively smooth? (I write lean and that can sound choppy sometimes.)
Is there a unity of tone? Does it sound as if I just sat down one day and typed it up?

Get rid of the really cute or "showy" stuff because it sticks out like an anachronism. Are they any really obvious anachronisms, in speech or narrative? What about cliches?

What's missing and needs to be added? (This usually means description/details.) Is every adverb used serving a purpose? How 'bout those dialogue tags? Can I tell who's talking?

Look for continuity boo-boos (oops, that horse changed color!). Double check any remotely questionable historical detail.

What about spelling? Grammar? Typos?

The Characters -- are they believable? Have I given them believable motivation? Have I given them a backstory that makes them interesting, realistic and explains their motivations? Do they sound unique? Is it clear who's doing what, when, and why, and who's saying what, when?

Any wonder I wind up with a mess of red ink on my hard copy pages????


Christine said...

I love reading your revision process, Margaret. Now I know I'm not weird because I do basically the same thing.

BTW, I nominated you for the Thinking Blogger Award on my site. :) Thanks for all of your wonderful posts.

Margaret Moore said...

Thank you, Christine! That's so neat!