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Amalie Berlin on Revisions and a Giveaway!

 We have writer Amalie Berlin with an amazing post of revisions and she's got a giveaway for one commenter. Yes, a signed and print copy of her CRAVING HER ROUGH DIAMOND DOC.

Amalie on Facebook and Twitter.



Revising & Confusing Terms

 

When I first started writing with an eye toward publication, I submersed myself in blogs and forums, places where writers congregate, always looking for keys and advice which would make the whole business of writing easier.

I read craft books. I asked questions. I learned the lingo. Grasped the difference between internal and external conflict, between plotters and pantsers, and even the nebulous concept of voice. But what to do after you finished your first draft? I didn’t understand that.

Writers threw around words like revising and rewriting, editing and polishing, and it all seemed like the same thing. Some process by which you make your story better, and fix grammar and spelling issues, clarify thoughts… improve imagery?  

But the terms are not interchangeable.

To be honest, I still don’t fully understand what others mean when they use these words, because I don’t know if they’re as confused by the whole thing as I was once, or if they know some real, actual, official, Webster-approved definition of the words(which I still don’t have).

The best I can do is separate what I’ve groked about the publication process into working definitions.

 

Polishing: The easiest sort of editing to do. If you get done with your first draft and all you do is go back through to make sure you’re not abusing passive voice, or that your nouns and verbs are in agreement? Then you’re polishing, not revising.

 

Revision: This has nothing to do with words.  It’s all about story. The problem with revising(which we all know) is that it’s hard to see the flaws in your own stories. You had a reason for the way you wrote the story to begin with. So revision is revisiting your reasons for the choices you made in your story.

Does your perspective change on anything now that you’ve reached the end of the story once through? Is there a better way to handle X, Y or Z? Do your scenes pull their weight? Do you need to cut some and work information into another scene? And if you change those parts to something that makes the story stronger, do those changes ripple through the storyline? If so, you have to fix those bits too.

These are the questions you have to ask when you’re revising.

 

Rewrite: This definition is still kind of elusive to me. I don’t have it nailed down to any sort of process. I view it as extreme revision. If my revision notes look like I’m pulling a Lizzie Borden on my manuscript, if I am chopping it to bits and tinier bits of gooey bits so I have to rewrite half(or more) from scratch? That’s a rewrite for me. Your definition might be different, and probably is. Whatever your exact definition, it’s epic. Rewrites are epic. It means the mass murder of thousands and thousands of words. And not just on the altar of art, poetry and beautification. Rewrites are Carnage.

 


My best revision advice is this: To keep your story from being dull and predictable, look for ways to make a mess, upset your story people. Are your characters acting too rationally? Do they make great decisions from start to finish? Well, when people are upset they make bad decisions. And bad decisions made under duress are a great way to keep your story rife with conflict and give those characters situations in which to grow into the people they are meant to be.

 

And get critique partners. Good ones who will do more than point out grammar and spelling issues. You want people who will lovingly rip bloody shards out of your story, point out why that newly made hole needs something else in it than what they excised, and help you fill the hole in with nougat. Mmmm nougat.

What about you?

Amalie has her debut novel out now. Check this link out!

Craving Her Rough Diamond Doc

Her first sighting of Dr. Wyatt Beauchamp is of him with his shirt off—all deliciously bronzed corded muscle and mouthwatering abs—and nurse Imogen Donally hopes the next six months working in his remote mountain practice will be…more interesting than she'd originally thought! Only, her Dr. Tall, Dark and Handsome quickly proves to be more Tall, Dark and Seriously Brooding…. Tough cookie Imogen has no desire ever to settle down, but even she is reluctantly intrigued by a man just as haunted by the past as she is. Could a red-hot fling with the sexy, stubborn doc be Imogen's undoing?


Please click on this link to enter the Goodreads Giveaway for Amalie's book. And Amalie would be giving a signed print copy to one commenter as well.

29 comments:

  1. "look for ways to make a mess" - I like that.
    I like your title too, it's so original!

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    1. Thanks Deniz! "Make a mess" is a mantra for me while writing. Which is probably why I love the middle of the book rather than the end, where I have to clean up the mess and make it make sense :)

      I can't take credit for the title, my editorial team came up with it so it better fit with the theme of the line.

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  2. Probably if you ask ten different people, you'll get ten different ways to go about editing your manuscript. And at least half of those will use different terms. Cover all the bases in a way that works for you.

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    1. You nailed it, Carol. I think that is why it is so hard to figure out HOW to revise at the beginning, everyone tells you something different. I didn't really start to understand until I got my first revision letter, and then it wasn't about terms so much as about Fixing The Problems.

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  3. I think people use the terms however they want. Many people have different ideas for what they mean. As long as we can do it successfully (and get a contract) I'm willing to overlook the multiple uses.

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    1. And for me that meant: get it in good enough shape for an editor to see the possibilities, and then I really learned what revision meant. Without that outside assistance though, it's very hard to figure out HOW to revise a manuscript. You already had good reasons for the storytelling choices you made, and you already probably thought they were the best choices to make, else why write them. Very hard to learn to see the holes.

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  4. What an excellent post! I liked the different ways Amalie gave us to look at revision/editing. It is such an important stage and there are many important things to keep in mind when making changes to improve our writing.

    Thanks for sharing and wishing Amalie the best of lick. :)

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    1. Thanks, Jess!

      But wouldn't it be nice if we could just write it once and have a masterpiece! :) Ahhh I love fiction. And fantasizing...

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  5. A very interesting post, thanks for sharing. It's not as easy as it sounds to write a book!

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    1. It does sound easy, doesn't it? I'm glad now that it sounds easy, else I may have never tried it. Yay for that, or for delusional confidence!

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  6. Great post! I tend to define revising as more of the 'bang head against something hard' and polishing as more of the 'going cross eyed while decided on the perfect word' :)

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    1. hehehe. I like this.

      Revising is still too traumatic to be funny about LOL

      but

      Polishing = Phoenix Verbs rising from the Ashes of the Adverb Slaughter :)

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  7. I've actually rewritten a book where I had to open a new document, use the bare bones of my former manuscript, and start over. To me, that's a true rewrite.

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    1. Yes, I've done that. It's awful!

      This book that sold I went through two vigorous revisions where I probably wrote closer to 150K words for a book that ended up being 55K. But I did it in the same document, so I still consider it least one rewrite.

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  8. Editing can be a pain, but yeah polishing isn't so bad

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    1. I kind of like polishing.

      But my favorite is Author Amendments time.... for after it's gone through copy edits and I just have to reread and tweak here and there. That's great.

      Except for that's when the doubt crows surge back to life and it's too late to really CHANGE things :)

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  9. Great post and very timely for me as I keep polishing my work. Thanks for sharing this post Amalie.

    Congratulations on your release and all the best!

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    1. Thank you, Kelly, and you're welcome! Good luck with your story(whether it's polishing-time or revising-time)

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  10. Polishing is much more fun than editing/revising. We writers do have a tendency to throw around terms, and they can get a little muddled at times.

    Great post, Amalie!

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    1. I love to polish. Even when it doesn't come with a lemony-fresh scent! :)

      (Revising I also love but it's like eating brussel sprouts. You know it's good for you, but boyhowdy can it be unpleasant.)

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  11. Thanks for the fab writerly advice Amalie!! Dr Wyatt sounds like a dreamboat! Good luck Imogen! Take care
    x

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    1. Thanks, Kitty! I don't really feel all that qualified to dish writing advice to anyone yet, but I have loads of opinions! :D

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  12. Good post, Amalie!
    I would add the following:
    I find stories interesting when the characters are interesting. What makes a character interesting? We all have different answers I suppose. Some food for thought here.

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    1. That's true. One man's trash... etcetcetc

      And now it's time for me to quote Ghostbusters, "I find her interesting because she's a client, and she sleeps above her covers. Four Feet Above her covers..."

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  13. Good post! I probably spend the most time during the polishing stage, going through multiple drafts. I don't rewrite unless editors have a major problem with something.

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  14. I'm a real pro at making a mess; it's the cleaning up part that's a real pain in the patootie. I mean, there's a self-cleaning oven, and a self-defrosting fridge... why not a fix-itself manuscript? Yeah, right.

    Fun post, and your the book sounds terrific. (I've always been a sucker for stories set in the medical world.) Good luck with it!

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  15. You're so right about it being so hard to find the flaws in our own stories. I do enjoy editing.

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  16. I have a hard time seeing problems with my own story until my CPs point them out. Then they're SO clear. LOL

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  17. Winner selected from long list of comments on last two stops of blog visit. Many things to magic name picker(gosh I love people who can write fun computer codes and give them away)

    CONGRATS RAWKNROBIN, EMAIL INCOMING!

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