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Friday, May 14, 2010

Revision Week: How Hannah Tackles Them

Last, but not least, for Revision Week is Hannah Moskowitz, author of Break (Simon Pulse) and Invincible Summer (Simon Pulse, April 2011). *cue applause and firecrackers* Thanks Hannah!


When I first started writing, I did at least five or six drafts of each manuscript before anyone saw it but me. Then it went out to betas, and then out on submission, and by the time any agent saw it, it was probably seven or eight drafts removed from the original thing. That was what I needed to do then to make the manuscript okay.

Now that I've had more more practice, I generally only do a draft or two before I send my manuscript to my agent and my beta readers, and then there's usually only another draft or two after that before it goes to editors. The process is a lot faster now. There are two main things that allow me to do this. One: My first-drafting skills are way better. I write tight, clean first drafts now, which makes the editing process a lot easier.

Two: I figured out how to tackle revisions. And my favorite way of tackling them is one pass through the manuscript that touches on all the revisions you know you need to do.

I don't focus on one change at once. Instead, I make a list of the stuff that needs changing, and I read through the manuscript looking for places these things can be added. What I'm really looking for are strings to tug to bring something from the background into the foreground, or places where a snippet of scene can be added, or a character interaction that I can change to fulfill a revision need. And I keep going through the book, pulling strings, until I've done the changes I need to make.

A lot of times, the revisions you have to do involve taking what's already in the book and making it louder, more obvious, more important, which has the added bonus of making themes and so forth quieter and subtler and more delicate. And revising this way has the added benefit (typically) of boosting your word count, which is something I always need!

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