Overwhelmed Revising Your Book? Revise in These Bites

“It’s hard to see a middle ground between marking up your book line by line and doing a complete rewrite. It’s also hard to know what to fix in revision, and even harder to know when that process is finished.—Gabriela Pereira

image by bhumann34
image by bhumann34

In the September 2015 issue of Writer’s Digest, I read Gabriela Pereira’s article, “The Great Revision Pyramid. Pereira’s pyramid offers help to revise our books without being overwhelmed or confused. We can accomplish revisions in bites, or layers.

image by PublicDomainPictures
image by PublicDomainPictures

Pereira says by making several passes through our manuscript, focusing on one important element each time, our revisions should go faster, be less confusing, and be more effective.

5 Revision Layers

Layer 1: The Narration

  • image by ClkerFreeVectorImages
    image by ClkerFreeVectorImages

    Voice and Point of View (POV) – Pereira says this important pass through our manuscripts needs to be first. She suggests we make notes on the way we tell our story, on what will and won’t work for the reader experiencing our story.

  • Quote from “The Great Revision Pyramid”
    • “Once you have decided which type of narration you want, you will likely need to ‘reboot’ the scenes that depart from that style or POV so that everything is consistent.”

Layer 2: The Characters

  • Quote from “The Great Revision Pyramid”
    • “No matter how well you think you know your protagonist, sometimes when you finally look over your work and see him anew on the page, suddenly he feels … flat. Unmotivated, even, though you know the motivations are there.”
  • image by ClkerFreeVectorImages
    image by ClkerFreeVectorImages

    If we’re having problems bringing our character alive in his motivations and goals, Pereira suggests we take him to a “sandbox” and put him into scenes outside our story to learn more about him.

  • She affirms principles about secondary characters. If they don’t support the main character’s story and growth arc, they’re expendable.

Layer 3: The Story

  • Pereira says one of writers’ biggest mistakes is to focus on plot points before characters.
  • Quote from “The Great Revision Pyramid”
    • “The danger with this approach is that it forgets that characters are the driving force in your story. When you fixate on a rigid plot structure, you leave character by the wayside. But your story exists because of decisions your character makes.”
  • by DarkSinistar
    by DarkSinistar

    So, Pereira says, if we’re having trouble plugging plot holes, we should revisit our characters.

Layer 4: The Scenes

  • This is the time to work on world-building, description, dialogue, and theme.
  • Quotes from “The Great Revision Pyramid”
    • “Does [the world] feel real, or do you throw a lot of information at the reader but fail to show the world in action?”
    •  “By this stage of the revision, you should instinctively know how each character speaks. … Trim your dialogue to the barest minimum that still captures the essence of each scene.”
    • “Now it’s simply a question of making sure that every scene you’ve written relates to that over all theme.”
image by nanshy
image by nanshy

Layer 5: The Cosmetics

  • This is when we go to the line level and proofread and edit.
  • Pereira suggests doing these edits last because we’ll avoid wasting time on scenes we may have deleted in the other revising layers.

Try this method of revising your story in bites. Click to tweet.

How do you revise your rough draft into the best book you can write?

5 Tips to Diagnose Your Website for Problems That Confuse Visitors

“In an endless jungle of websites with text-based content, a beautiful image with a lot of space and colour can be like walking into a clearing. It’s a relief.” —David McCandless (data-journalist, and information designer)

image by bykst
image by bykst

I think watching what your website visitors do is important.

Tip 1: Make sure your visitors take the action they think they’re performing.

I learned that a visitor had come to my blog and thought she’d subscribed to Follow my Blog Via Email. She had subscribed to my newsletter.

news-634805_1280
image by geralt

About that time, I found out I wouldn’t be able to announce my blog on an email loop. I invited those on the loop to subscribe to my email notifications. Immediately, someone signed up for my newsletter. An aha moment. My Newsletter sign-up was at the top of my blog sidebar. I immediately moved the Follow my Blog Via Email to the top of the sidebar.

Why was this important? After all, I’d acquired subscribers to my newsletter. But suppose they didn’t want another newsletter coming into their inboxes. Not realizing they had signed up for my newsletter, they may mark my Newsletter emails as spam.

Tip 2: Remove events promptly when events you’ve announced on your website have passed.

I have a countdown calendar I use for events. Letting it sit with zeros from the last event, suggests I’ve neglected it. On my calendar on the day after the event, I need to schedule time to change it to my next event. If I don’t have an event coming up, I can set it for the next conference or workshop I plan to attend.

image by Body-in-Care
image by Body-in-Care

The same goes for my Speaking/Events page. Leaving these events on the page for a week past the event date to show what I’ve been doing is probably fine, but after that, my events are old news and my page looks neglected.

Tip 3: Refresh information.

My Home page had a prominent announcement that advertised the availability of my novel, Calculated Risk. It said, “Available November 2014.” The same announcement resided on the page’s sidebar, my Book page, and my Blog sidebar. My husband suggested I change it. As November 2015 approaches, some visitors may see only “November” and think Calculated Risk isn’t available yet.

Tip 4: Try updating, moving, or adding content on your sales page.

On my Books page, I think my endorsements by other authors may speak to readers better than other content. Yet, I wondered how often visitors read to the end of the page where the endorsements for Calculated Risk lie. So, I moved one to the top.

Also, on my For Readers page, the fun book trailer resided after the content, which is a repeat of my Books page content. I moved the trailer to the top for visitors to enjoy.

Tip 5: Cut clutter from your pages.

image by Biedermann
image by Biedermann

Busyness tends to overwhelm visitors. I keep my pages simple and to the point, with plenty of white space. However, after reading today’s quote above, I added a picture to my Book Club and Speaking/Events pages.

5 Tips to stop confusing your website visitors. Click to tweet.

What adjustments have you made to your website that made your content clearer?

What Two Experts Say About Writing Dialogue

“What’s the first thing acquisition editors look for when they begin reading a fiction submission? … ‘The first thing I do is find a scene with some dialogue. If the dialogue doesn’t work, the manuscript gets bounced. If it’s good, I start reading.’” —Renni Browne and Dave King (Self-Editing for Fiction Writers)

image by geralt
image by geralt

For me, dialogue:

  • Brings characters alive with personality and moral character.
  • Moves the plot along.
  • Supplies information in a way that’s often more interesting than narration.
  • Breaks up narration and furnishes a delightful interlude.

The following quotes are from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers —Renni Browne and Dave King. Examples are mine.

image by WikimediaImages
image by WikimediaImages

Explaining your dialogue.

  • “When your dialogue is well written, describing your characters’ emotions to your readers is just as patronizing as a playwright running onto the stage and yelling at the audience. … Resist the Urge to Explain (R.U.E.)”

 

 

  • “If you show how she is astonished through her dialogue or through a beat, then your readers will know a little more about her.”
    • Examples (Before-B and After-A):

B. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he said in irritation.

A. He whisked off his glasses and rapped them against the document. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

 

B. “Oh, Suz. I love what you’ve done. I really do,” Liza gushed.

A. Lisa clasped her hands under her chin. “Oh, Suz. I love what you’ve done. I really do.” (Obvious gushing.)

 

B. “I’m not sure … I know what you’re talking about,” John said guardedly.

A. John lowered his brow and stepped back. “I’m not sure … I know what you’re talking about.”

 

The following quotes are from The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction —Jeff Gerke. Examples are mine.

Sticking to said.

  • “Why do [novelists] feel that said wouldn’t work? To avoid using said they insist that their characters not say words but growl, proclaim, or laugh them out, as if such a thing were possible. Try moaning out words. Go on, try it. You’re either moaning or you’re speaking not both. … Anything but said is painfully visible.”
    • image by Fotari70D4
      image by Fotari70D4
      Example:

B. “I’ve got to wash the floor all over again,” Sandi groaned.

A. “Oh nooo! Now I’ve got to wash the floor all over again,” Sandi said.

Sounding authentic.

  • “What I mean by authentic is that dialogue must be realistic, layered, and right for the character and the moment.”
  • “Realistic dialogue is not formal or polite.”
    • Example: “Now I must wash the floor again,” Sandi said.
image by stux
image by stux
  • “Dialogue carries layers of meaning beneath the surface of the words actually uttered.”
    • Example: “Thanks a lot,” Sandi said, glaring at the muddy footprints.
  • “If you had, say, three characters speaking together and you removed all beats and speech attributes … the reader still ought to be able to know which character is speaking at any time.” 

“By how he speaks, what he thinks about that comes out in his words, by the vocabulary he chooses, by his syntax and grammar and length of sentences.”

Example: Which is Sandi, her mother, and her husband?

“Oh nooo! Now I’ve got to wash the floor all over again.”

“Oops. Sorry, hon. Guess wiping my boots on the garage mat wasn’t enough, huh?”

“I’ll make quick work of cleaning up the mud. You two sit outside and enjoy a few minutes rest together.”

Heed these 2 experts’ teachings and make your dialogue shine. Click to tweet.

What do you enjoy most about good dialogue?