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3 Ways to Use Fresh Eyes to Revise

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 2:03
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(Before It's News)

Whee! I’m on spring break. I had nothing planned on one particular day, so I headed to the local library, laptop in hand, to work on my current WIP.

Since it’s been days weeks months since I last worked on it, I decided to read it through, at least part of it, before picking up where I last left off. (It’s only 26,000 words so far, about 50 pages of single-spaced typing. I envision it being a middle-grades historical fiction novel.)

Immediately I remembered I’d started it in past tense, but then midway decided to write it in present tense, since the story centers around just a few days in a young man’s life. I want the reader to feel like they’re experiencing the events right alongside the boy.


What started as a quick skim became a nit-picking session… and I realized that my screw-up could be a good thing… which made me think of a couple more ways I could freshen up my eyes when it comes time to revise.

1) Have an ulterior motive. Perhaps you’re looking to infuse the piece with more sensory details. Maybe you want to include a particular thread–here and there–throughout the piece. Maybe, like me, you need to make sure the tense is consistent.

Going through a WIP, line by line, with another goal in mind, will allow you to revise with a fresh outlook. While I was tinkering with the tense, I saw all kinds of other things I needed to tinker with. Some phrases that didn’t match the tone. Some details I forgot to include. Through careful reading, I took care of several birds with one stone. The revision that took place happened naturally and efficiently.

2) Find someone who’s in the dark–preferably someone who’s not in love with your writing–and have them read your manuscript.  Your head may be so full of what life was like during the middle-ages that the details are leaking out your ears. However, the typical reader is not an expert like you are. An honest reader will fill you in on parts where they got lost. (I have a 7th grade student who doesn’t like to read, but has offered to read my WIP when it’s finished. Hopefully he won’t have three grandchildren by the time that happens.)

3) Write a book blurb. Imagine the “blurb” that would be on the back of your book. If you can’t sum up your story into 150 words or so, you might need to work on your story.  (Trust me, I’ve been there, and if I can’t even figure out what my manuscript’s about, how can I think the reader will be able to figure it out?) You might even think of what artwork would be on the cover. If the blurb or the cover you envision doesn’t match your story, you need to rethink your vision/manuscript.

For your current WIP, what would you include in your blurb? And do you think my “present tense” idea is a good one? 

Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a freelance writer and a dog rescuer. Currently, she’s interested in finding a publisher who could be bribed by a batch of the best fudge west of the Mississippi. To read more of Sioux’s writing, go to her blog.

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