Monday, October 24, 2011

questions that helped during revisions

Revisions are the equivalent of a long run for me. The difficult part is doing it. The results afterward? So worth it! Then comes the itch; you know, the one that keeps it on your mind, convinces you that there's always improvement to make. It's an addictive tug of endorphins, a back and forth pendulum for the perfectionist.

I decided to look at other novels in depth to help my own revisions. (I studied three books out of my genre and three within.) Here are some of the things that I jotted down:

1. We've read that each chapter should contribute to the plot but from what I read, that isn't enough. And how about those books where we have skipped through the sagging middles just so they end already?
The main questions I asked (and answered yes to, when reading good books) was:
If I skip this chapter, will I miss an event that happened to the character? Will I be confused later on in the book because something crucial occurred here and only here? Can I write in a single sentence what this event was in each chapter?

2. Laura, my amazing critique partner, helped me understand the importance of tension. I had to do a lot of reading and revising to understand what that truly meant. These questions have helped me so far:

The character has choices to make. What will she lose if she goes for A over B? In other words, what is at stake for her?
Are there hints to secrets or unexplained plots that make me want to keep going?
Does the reader feel pressure and conflict pushing the character in a certain direction? Is there a push and pull (even if it's all internal)?

3. Last is the crucial element of change. Even if the world of the character stays the same, there has to be something that changed. Otherwise, what's the point of the novel?
For this, I looked at the first two and last two chapters of the books.
Are the characters in the same relationships?
Did the change come as a steady progression throughout the novel or did the ending seemed rushed and eager to tie up any loose knots?


  1. What's at stake - that is so important!

  2. Relevance, stakes, and change... a great thing to focus on each scene for. Happy revising!

  3. I really like that first question. It definitely helps weed out the nice from the essential.

  4. I especially like #1 and #3. Great post.

  5. I really liked your first question. Everything has to drive the story forward. :)

  6. Okay, now you have me wondering what three noveles in your genre and three out of your genre you were looking at.

    I think analyzing novels has been the greatest help in my writing progress. That, and crit partners, of course!

    As much as I'd love to take credit for the pitch of Mrs Doubtfire that you praised me for, I copied it directly from Netflix! I mentioned Netflix, but didn't explicitly credit them for the pitch (Hangs head in shame)

  7. I am bookmarking this post. :) Great set of questions!

  8. Excellent thoughts to have during a revision. I totally agree with this list.

    Hey, thanks also for the congrats!

  9. These are all great questions to consider, Saumya. I'm writing them down! I especially like #1.

  10. Definitely thought provoking questions. I like how you have stated them, short and to the point.
    One Writer's Mind

  11. Good articles. I like it. Dont forget to give me your comment back into my blog, okay

  12. Great questions! This is really helpful.

  13. Hi Saumya..great set of questions. Your CP sure has contributed to your MS with her thought provoking questions.

  14. Great post, really made me think about what I have been writing.