Tips on Revising your Novel...

Hey guys,

Here's the third installment of my novel-writing tip sheets, in honor of NaNoWriMo-- hope it's helpful!  This is something you'll want to use after your first draft, but it can't hurt to look it over now, and let your unconscious mind start working its magic...

Laura’s Revision Checklist

  • Storyline, Pacing, Structure

    • Are important transformational moments and revelations given in scene, not summary?
    • Does each of the subplots have a clear narrative arc or a storyline that corresponds with characters’ changing feelings?
    • Are the central story questions established early on?  Are all the threads and subplots developed and resolved?
    • Are suspenseful moments as suspenseful as possible?  See if you can make them more suspenseful—perhaps by slowing them down, perhaps by clarifying or raising the stakes.  Remember that suspenseful moments need play-by-play narration in scene, not in summary.

  • Characters, Relationships

    • Is each character’s voice distinct?  Pay attention to each character’s way of expressing her/himself—the unique cadence, sentence structure and length, word choice, metaphors, etc.
    • Are all characters—even minor ones-- three-dimensional, with their own motivations and quests?
    • Do characters act in ways consistent with their personalities (and if they diverge, is it clear why)?
    • Is there enough back story to understand the characters (but not too much)?
    • Do all important relationships grow and change?  By the end, is there clear evidence of how the main characters have changed?

  • Theme, Language, Style

    • Is the language rich with sensual details and imagery (but not over-doing it)?  Is the setting vivid?
    • Is there a good balance of scene and summary? Are you showing rather than telling whenever appropriate?
    • Does every scene have a point?  When possible, does each scene ask a question, then answer the question, then ask a new question at the end?
    • Does every scene resonate on several levels? Have you cut irrelevant parts and any repetition of words, phrases, or content? 
    • Do scenes open strongly?  Are the scene breaks powerful? Active, (not passive) verbs when possible? Tenses clear and consistent?
 *Stay tuned for next week-- I've been asked to do a regional NaNoWriMo pep talk, which I'll plan on posting here, too. I'm having fun writing it...*