The Six R’s of Revising Your First Draft
The Six R’s of Revising Your First Draft
- Reading as a reader
- Rewriting sentences or sections for clarity and flow
- Replacing weak words with stronger words
- Relocating paragraphs and chapters
- Removing sentences, paragraphs, and scenes that slow the story’s pace
- Restructuring your story
- Let it sit for a few days.
- On the first read-through, read as a reader. Don’t read as a writer or an editor. You want to experience your book like your readers will.
- Some writers print their first draft. It can be easier to leave notes on a printed version.
- Focus on the big-picture items first (e.g., pacing, plot, structure) and then on characters and dialogue.
- Awkward wording: highlight words/phrases that don’t sound right or don’t make sense.
- Pacing: watch for parts of the book that seem to slow down and drag. Make a note of these parts as this is where readers could potentially stop reading your book.
- Plot holes and inconsistencies
- Poorly developed or extraneous characters
- Coincidences and too-convenient leaps of logic
- Long, rambling conversations or sections of narrative full of detail (a.ka. information dumps) that can slow pacing and don’t advance plot or reveal something about the characters
- “Pet” or “favorite” words and other words/phrases that are repeated frequently.
- Passive vs. active (telling vs. showing) words and scenes
- Telling how the character feels instead of showing how the character feels
- Scenes that use vague details instead of concrete details
- Does my story make sense?
- Does my story flow smoothly?
- Are transitions smooth or jarring?
- Is the plot compelling?
- Are the main characters well-developed and likable with strong goals and sufficient motivation?
- Do character evoke an emotional response?
- Are any characters flat and one-dimensional?
- Are there any inconsistencies with timing, setting, plot, and character descriptions?
- What is dialogue like? What dialogue tags are used? Are action beats used? Is it essential to the scene? Does it reflect the character speaking?
- Is the opening compelling? Does it “hook” readers?
- Are there scenes and/or actions that are boring or too similar to other scenes and/or actions in the story?
- Are scenes a good mix of narration, action, dialogue, and insight?
- Is there enough conflict and tension?
- Are any actions unbelievable?
- Is the ending satisfying or unsatisfying?
- Has the conflict been resolved at the end?
- Is the POV effective and consistent?
What do you find the most challenging about the revision process? Is there something you like/dislike about the revision process? Please share your opinions on the revision process in the comments below.
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Q is for Query Letter Tips
Before beginning the query process, have a finished and polished manuscript ready to go. Make sure your manuscript is the best you can make it. You can hire editors and/or proofreaders to assist with polishing your manuscript.
What is a Query Letter
A query letter is a formal letter sent to magazine editors, literary agents, or editors and/or agents at publishing houses or companies. Writers write query letters to propose writing ideas. A query letter is a sales pitch and should be written in such a way as to spark the reader’s interest.
Purpose of a Query Letter
The only purpose of a query letter is to entice the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work.
Elements of a Query Letter
In addition to the opening/introductory paragraph and the thank you/closing paragraph, include the following:
- What you’re selling: Title/subtitle, word count, genre/category
- Hook (approximately 100–200 words). This is your “sales pitch” and is your novel summed up in such a way it will entice the agent or editor to request your work. The hook should include the following details:
- Setting/time period (optional, based on genre)
- The protagonist and his/her conflicts
- The choices the protagonist has to make (or what is at stake)
- What makes your story stand out and sets it apart from others in the same genre
- Your bio (optional for unpublished fiction writers): include relevant qualifications and publishing history, if any
Tips for Writing a Query Letter
- Use quality paper with a weight of at least 20# in white or off-white colors
- Do not use stationery in unusual colors (e.g., mint green, hot pink) or with little pictures in the margins
- Consider using personalized letterhead with logo
- Use a professional font (e.g., Times New Roman, Courier)
- Follow query guidelines set forth by editor, agent, or publisher
- Make sure to point out your novel is completed
- Restrict yourself to one page (Two pages only if necessary)
- Be professional and respectful
- Make your points quickly, clearly, and concisely
- Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope
- Address and direct the letter to a specific person by name and title (Check the spelling)
- Personalize/customize the letter for the recipient (If you met the agent at a conference, include this fact.)
- Don’t include sample chapters unless specifically requested to attach to the query letter