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Monday, October 25, 2010

Time for Revision, with Help from a Pro

Could they possibly have known exactly what I would need, at exactly the right time?

Just as I was about to pull out a manuscript I'd begun a while back at one of the amazing Highlights Founders Weekends, the NYC Metro SCBWI announced their first Tuesday Professional series, with Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein. Having met her at a Rutgers One-on-One conference a while back, and being a follower of her blog, I had my check written the minute I noted the announcement.

In a word, Wow.

Cheryl told us this is how she works with her authors, the ways she helps them through a revision. My critique group has decided to work on some of her suggestions.

We're beginning with her first topic: VISION.

Please do not quote this blogpost as being verbatim from Cheryl. But here goes, my notes combined with her hand-out sheet.

Take some time off from the project, to get into a "fresh place." (I've been away from this project since June, so I'm good here.)

Don't even look at the manuscript again. First write a letter to a sympathetic friend, BEFORE YOU RE-READ the story. This is a tool for your use.

Here's what you want to tell yourself/ your friend/ colleague/ imaginary listener etc.:
a. What did you want to do with the book, and/or what did you want the book to do.
b. What the story is, briefly. (adventure? romance?)
c. What the book is "about" in a larger sense. (the emotional theme)
d. All the things you love about it, the amazing things that nobody has done before.
e. What you expect needs work: a "catalog of faults."

Now, take b, above and compress the story into one sentence, the "overall action" that is making the story move.

Expanding off this sentence, write a 250-word summary that gives away the ending.
(This is what our Critique Group is doing- due tomorrow- Yikes, I'd better get busy!)

These next two suggestions are helpful ideas that don't actually speak to me, but they may to others:

Make a collage for the book.
Make a playlist for individual chapters, characters, or the book as a whole.

Now you have a revision beginning! I'll share the rest of the talk on another blogpost. Soon. Great stuff!

Cheryl's website:

Related post: Cheryl Klein


Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

At first response I don't resonate with the collage or play list ideas either but you know what, I bet they'd help me. Maybe I should try those things. I know for sure that creativity in one area leads to creativity in another.

The letter to the friend sounds really useful.

Theodora said...

Thanks for the post. No doubt the exercises will help me whittle my story into a 250-word summary and then a sentence. I'm struggling.

The process of creating a short summary then a one sentence description came easier with AHD, but not so with PPP. I'd better get back to work. ; )

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Cheryl Klein seems so amazing. I haven't had a chance to hear her speak, but I've read her articles on her blog and SUCH GOOD STUFF.

These pre-revision ideas are GREAT. Love the letter to the friend/colleage/imaginary person idea, too.

Thanks for sharing this, Augusta!