Day 1 #pw16revclub #ReYoNo31 #PitchWars

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As with all best laid plans, throw a young kraken (read: 4 year old child) into the mix and things get… interesting. Make that a sick young kraken… well I’m sure you get the picture. My kraken makes anarchy look like a twinset and pearls Martha Stewart acolyte.

Despite having a kraken underfoot, I’ve managed to make a start on my revisions. The following are top issues in my revision plan:

+ cut backstory chunks in ch2-7 and reweave
+ analyse secondary characters’ purpose/roles and consolidate/cut where needed
+ bring to the fore main conflict thread

+ review characterisation of my MC–need to walk tightrope between special snowflake, agency, Mary Sue, and unique individual personality (man it’s tough to be a woman!)
+review diversity portrayal (descriptions, as well as English as a second language). 
Difficult one, need to think on this. One of the characters is loosely based on my grandfather. He was a rear admiral in the Kuomintang navy, super clever and multi-talented (poet, writer, artist on top of his military career), but as an immigrant to Canada in his 70s, his English was not fluent. *I* know he was clever, as do most people who have had exposure to dual language, but it’s important there be no ambiguity on this. 

I’m blending a few things together–using Janice Hardy’s excellent 31 day revisions framework but adding a few of my own tweaks. I’m taking Janice Hardy’s day one (plot and structure) and swapping it with her day two (character arc) because I believe story is character arc. As Lisa Cron puts it: A story is about how the things that happen affect someone in pursuit of a difficult goal, and how the person changes internally as a result. So my plan over the next few days:

  1. Day 1: Work through Lisa Cron’s Story Genius to hone main character arc. Halfway there!
  2. Day 2 (today): Finish Lisa Cron’s Story Genius exercises, then plot character arc & story turning points into story grid.
  3. Day 3: Analyse my story grid, make any necessary tweaks. Take scene cards (thank goodness I’d done these before. 62 of them, each with GMC, character arc per scene, plot threads etc) and make a plot graph. Highlight weaknesses. Brain storm how to strengthen.

So that’s my plan. Fellow #amrevising peeps, what are your favourite revision tips?

Happy writing all. May the Muse be with you.

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Mirror Mirror You’re the Best

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As part of the Pitch Wars experience, some mentors were able to give feedback on submitted manuscripts. I was fortunate to have received not one, but two edit letters. Both were long and detailed and very much appreciated.

I’ll be honest here. I’m no rhino-skinned teflon-coated snowflake. I am sensitive to criticism. Especially when I feel it is unwarranted. If someone speaks to me in a forceful, borderline unkind voice, my hands will shake and tears will threaten. It’s annoying, but I’m guessing a deeply ingrained trait because my daughter reacts the same way.

But critiques on my writing trigger a different response. Don’t get me wrong, I love compliments and praise as much as the next person. But in order to make my writing better, I want to be told where things don’t work for the reader. I need to be told since I can’t see my own writing through a reader’s eyes.

The best way to describe how I feel is to think of my manuscript as a dress. A dress I created from a made-up pattern. In my head, the dress has beautiful lines, nice drape, a good cut. I get out my fabric, scissors, needles, and get to work. I measure, cut, sew, fit, tweak and do my best to reflect the awesome dress in my dreams onto the fabric in my hands. The only thing is, I lack a mirror to see how it looks when worn. If I am unflinchingly honest with myself, I will have an idea of how it might look, but it’s only ball park. I can tell where it doesn’t quite fit, I can look down and see or feel where it bunches. I can do a fair bit of the fixing and picking and restitching etc from my own observations to make that thing as good as I can get it.

But if I want to make that dress amazing? I need to see the dress on me.

I need a mirror.

Critical feedback is that mirror. It offers me the chance to see my work with someone else’s eyes.

That is a gift.

With a mirror, I can decide where to adjust, recut, trim, tuck, re-stitch, reposition. I can make informed decisions. With enough effort, hopefully I’ll end up with something that looks as cool as I imagined. Maybe better.

So, to all my lovely mirrors who have spent time and effort and brain power to provide me a different perspective on my work. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

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Starting Wednesday I’ll loosely follow Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel workshop with fellow Pitch Wars contestants. I aim to finish a final edit on my manuscript by mid October. If you’re #amwriting on #pw16revclub, find us on Twitter with #ReYoNo31.

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