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Please do not quote this blogpost as being verbatim from Cheryl.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: http://cherylklein.com/
Related post: Cheryl Klein