Writing Revision Book Reviews

I’ve waited for some time to put up this review Revision and Self Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell because I wanted to test the techniques that James Scott Bell suggests will transform a first draft into a novel that sells.

So I blew the dust off one of my novels that I really didn’t think needed a rewrite … after numerous rewrites under its belt. But once I started applying some of the principles outlined in Revision and Self Editing for Publication into notes it was stunningly obvious how much the book would help my rewrite.The Revision and Self Editing book has so many tips to up the ante on your writing so where does a writer begin?

And then I got waylaid by reading Characters And Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. When I found that the work worked wonderfully hand-in-hand to guide me through the next rewrite of one of my novels I thought I’d give you a combo.

The Revision and Self Editing book has so many tips to up the ante on your writing so where does a writer begin? One place could be with the weak scenes. Here James suggests you find the objective of the scene, create obstacles for the character and then determine the outcome.

Find a moment near the beginning to make your reader care – I won’t give this tip away so read the book to find out how to do this.

James guides you with this advice - find the core f the scene with questions like: what’s the purpose of the scene and why does the scene exist?

He advocates:
1.    Establish viewpoint
2.    Ensure conflict in every scene
3.    Action scenes must show clear objectives
4.    Reaction scenes must show clear emotion

Dialogue speeds up your scene with short, sharp bursts. The white space gives movement. Go back over your scenes and lighten the heavy text to show more white – moving – space. This s not always easily done but dialogue is a good place to start freshening those scenes. And of course, dialogue is an excellent way to avoid ‘telling’.

Look for scenes whre you’re telling the reader instead of showing and turn that into dialogue with action happening all around. I found that some scenes in my novel (which didn’t need a rewrite) was lacking n the ‘telling’ department and turning those scenes into action packed with dialogue strengthened the scenes and strangely enough, so many other little things fell into place naturally. It was wonderfully cathartic.

Another rewriting technique I am using is raising the stakes. Here Character and Viewpoint really shone light on upping my novel’s game. Orson guides you through several options to grip you reader and make them turn those pages. Suffering, sacrifice, jeopardy, tension and signs are all excellent methods to try in your written work.

Using this and some of the points in Jame’s ultimate revision checklist I had a great time and got very excited with my rewrite. One great tip I used from James was to take certain scenes and jot down ten ideas of how to raise the stakes. Combined with Orson’s value added chapter on raising stakes, let me tell you - you can only come out with some powerful stuff!

Orson’s chapter on transformations in your characters is vital to make your fictional characters real.

My favourite section of Orson’s book was part three, performing characters, where he discusses voices (aka – who is telling your story), presentation versus representation, which is about how to relate your story to your reader. If you have ever struggled with deciding if your character should speak directly to your reader, if your writing is meant to be like a real document, if you want to express an opinion or if you want to express through the point of view of a character, you seriously need to study this section!

The chapter where Orson explains dramatic versus narrative is very helpful for the show and tell dilemma mentioned above. And then he dives straight into chapters on first person and third person and changing viewpoints of characters. Again, highly important things every aspiring author needs to tackle.

To finish a finely polished novel, buy both books, read them in tandem or separately and then apply all the writing tools to your novel!

 Revision and Self Editing for Publication, 2nd Edition: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel that Sells

 Revision and Self Editing for Publication, ...
by James Scott Bell
£9.59

 

 

Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Writing Fiction )

Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Wri...
by Orson Scott Card

 

 

 

 

Buy Characters And Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

Buy Revision and Self Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell