Revision Step 1: Delete!

ImageI’m doing some major revisions of a manuscript. I recommend beginning the revision process by looking for things to remove. Many times deleting content will improve clarity, voice, logic, and flow. As an added bonus, by deleting content in your first step of revision you won’t waste time polishing material you will only remove your labor of love later on. And if deleting content leaves holes, you can brainstorm and fill the gaps with something even better.

This is the start of a five-part series of articles that looks at deleting to improve Style, Events, Summary and Description, Characters, and Dialogue.

  • Style  assumes that you know the basics of grammar – that you know a noun from a verb but may or may not remember an adverb from a adjective. Whether you have found your writing voice or are still flailing around, there are still ways to make your narrative more clear to the reader. The blog does NOT intend to place greater value on any particular type of voice (wordy, terse, slang, etc.) or to influence you in a particular direction. If I did, then it wouldn’t be your voice, would it?

  • Events assumes that you know the basic flow of a scene. If you struggle with this, you can still use these strategies and tips. This blog looks at relevance on the macro and micro levels, as well as the qualities mentioned earlier. The blog does NOT delve into different types of conflict, a break-down of what a scene is and is not, or types of transitions. Again, each of those would need its own post.

  • Summary and Descriptions assumes that these will be where your voice shines through most clearly. If you aren’t sure what your voice is, here is a great place to look. Regardless of genre, there are guidelines for good summary and description. I attempt to touch on these. This area is one that can help define the genre you are writing and every genre comes with its own expectations. The blog does NOT break down different genre expectations for summary and description. Instead, it tries to provide guidelines in terms that are relevant across genre.

  • Characters assumes that you have developed the people in your story or have plans to do so. The blog looks at staying true to your characters and your reader. Always, in my book, the reader comes first, the main character(s) comes second, and so on. The blog does NOT deal directly with character development but the tips and strategies will probably help you in this area, too.

  • Dialogue is an area I struggle with but many other people love. I assume the reader can keep straight who is talking to who. The blog looks at streamlining dialogue, tags, and non-conversational prose. The blog does NOT address increasing conflict, tension, foreshadowing, back-story, or world-building through dialogue. That would be adding and this blog is about subtracting.

I will try to keep the blogs shorter than this introduction!

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