Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Revision revelation #amediting #amwriting #amrevising

18 Comments

Being a member of a writing organization like Sisters in Crime (SinC) or Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is one of those things that we do to add street cred, right? Since I’m writing mysteries at this point, those are my organizations of genre. There are so many others, like Romance Writers of America (RWA), Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

The reason I bring it up is because these organizations offer webinars about the craft. Usually for FREE. Maybe there have been more offerings lately because they are all online at this point, or maybe I just didn’t pay attention before, but holy cow. Lots of good stuff out there.

This past week I attended a SinC webinar, “Revolutionary Editing”, presented by the recent Edgar Allen Poe Award nominee, Jess Lourey (a fellow MN author and a kitten foster mom who posts the most adorable kitten vids on FB!). Jess is a tenured creative writing professor (which I didn’t realize). She also offers courses and writing retreats through her Jess Lourey University website. She gave “quick and dirty tips” for editing.

Jess’ technique is pretty straightforward: check the character arc, analyze the plot (I ruminated about that last week), and look at each scene to make sure there is enough “power” in it (my word, not hers).

There are so many different methods for editing, probably as many as there are writers. I don’t have a specific method, other than read through the draft, make notes, revise, let the story sit for a couple weeks, rinse and repeat. When I do revise, I try to think about the structure, which I wrote about last week. After Jess Lourey’s webinar, I have a new technique I want to try.

It was the scene part of her process that stuck in my head. We all know a scene needs to feed into the story goal by either moving the story/plot forward or supporting the character arc. If it doesn’t, it should be dropped or rewritten. Jess’ suggestions went beyond that in a way that made me really think:

    • A summary of a scene (like, a one- or two-sentence summary) should never transition to the next scene with “and then”. For example: This happens, and then this happens, and then … Instead, between each scene you should be able to say a phrase like: but, because, therefore, or meanwhile. For example: This happens, but then this happens, because then this happens, and meanwhile/therefore this happens. (This is actually from a video short by the writers of ‘South Park’, in case it sounds familiar.)
    • Each scene should have at least 2 of these elements: action (a physical, emotional, or psychic shift), relationship (romantic, friendship, or humor), information, suspense, and/or emotion (not book emotion, but reader emotion). Really intense scenes (like the climax) should have 4 or 5 of these.

Jess uses notecards; one card for each scene, with the scene summary. That way she can shuffle the scenes around, and quickly see if that scene has the appropriate amount of action, relationship, information, suspense, and/or emotion.

It’s interesting how much a simple concept or practice can make so much sense! In the past I have written scene summaries on notecards so I can shuffle them around, but it never occured to me to analyze them for content like that. It makes a lot of sense, at least to me.

I’m almost to the halfway point in my revision, and after Jess’ webinar (I think I actually knew there was a problem, but for some reason I could “visualize” it after the webinar), I have a major fix figured out. It’s the whole midpoint thing, that black moment when the main character is ready to throw up her hands, pick up her toys, and go home. My “black moment” wasn’t bleak enough, so now *rubs hands together and cackles maniacally* I have a fix for it.

Hope your writing is going well! This week we’re getting an unusual wave of warm weather (yes, even a degree below freezing is warm this time of year in MN), and, of course, more snow. We’ve been pretty spoiled this year with a mild winter.

Write on!

Yes, I’m in your chair. Your point?

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, three chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

18 thoughts on “Revision revelation #amediting #amwriting #amrevising

  1. I’m glad you’ve found some organizations and groups, etc., to support you, Julie. When it comes to writing, we have to write alone (well, except for that Muse šŸ˜‰ ), but we don’t have to be alone as writers. There’s a lot of help and support out there, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What an interesting post, Julie! I’m intrigued by some of these suggestions and looking forward to giving them a try with my current WIP.

    I wish I thought I could make good use of a webinar. Sadly, my poor hearing (even with hearing aids) makes it quite hard for me to enjoy/learn from them. šŸ˜¦ But a nice synopsis like this is wonderful! Thanks! šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jess’ suggestions made a lot of sense, and I’m going to try them with Book 2 and see how they work for me.

      I’m sorry you have a tough time with webinars. Some are really good, like Jess’, and some not so much–I sat in on a webinar about editing the next evening, and was disappointed. I’ll try to summarize the ones I do like just for you!

      Have a wonderful week, Marcia!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aw, thanks, Julie! That’s very nice, and I was about to tell you not to do it on my account, but then I realized how silly that was. I’m sure others will have missed it too, and would enjoy your shares as well, so I’ll keep a watch for any new ones you post. Thanks again! šŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That was interesting, Julie. I keep by scene summaries on Excel. I’m going to add a column or three for evaluating these factors. Thanks for the tip! Happy Writing. šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s wonderful how much writers support each other. Sounds like you got some great advice:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You totally nailed Zoey’s expression. I love it.
    So much information to unpack in here! Makes me feel like my writing is probably way far from the mark!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! As soon as I get up from my chair, Zoey will jump into the chair and roll around, all the while watching for my reaction. I got up from my my make-shift office chair (for my WFH day) she jumped on it and gave me the same expression: Your chair, I’m here, your point?

      You and me both; I was sitting in the webinar thinking about how much work I still need to do on my draft.

      Have a great week, Betsy!

      Like

  6. Great notes about paragraph/scene content. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m working through an edit of my ms right now. I’ve been working on it for weeks and am almost done (YAY!). I really need to take advantage of more of the material that is out there through MWA. That pesky time thing always gets in my way.

    Glad you are enjoying mild temps. It’s dumping snow as I type this and we are under a major storm warning for the next two days. Methinks winter has truly arrived in the northeast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya about that pesky time thing! I’ve only beeen taking advantage recently for some reason…

      I keep hearing about the storm and have to admit I’m thanking Old Man Winter for giving us a break. Later this week, however, we’re supposed to get some more snow. One of the benefits of WFH: No driving through weather like that šŸ˜€

      Have a wonderful week, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is great. I want our Aviatrix Writers group to be the kind of resource that enhances our members’ writing, but I don’t want to duplicate the fabulous resources that already exist. This post inspires me to want to dedicate an article to highlighting the many organizations and resources that already exist for various types of writing. With input from the group, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Thawing out, for now #amwriting #amrevising #mnwinter | Facets of a Muse

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