Revision Tips From a Hospital Room
The revision struggle is real! Lately, I've been battling a recent draft of a manuscript that I"ve pulled from submission to give it a little something extra. My attempts to change one little section snowballed into a complete rewrite. Far from the original concept, I'm drafting an entirely new story. Of course, I'm no stranger to this; if you've read the backstory on THE STAR FESTIVAL, it is clear that sometimes, a complete overhaul is necessary. I'm game.
However, knowing this doesn't necessarily make the rewrites less painful. Seriously! Solving a problem in a manuscript becomes an obsession. I live and breathe how to fix it and craft a story that I can imagine seeing on the shelves.
Try, fail, repeat.
Try, fail, progress.
I like it.
Read it out loud to my husband,
I hate it!
Repeat the process all over again!
So, I was in this revision frenzy, thinking why is this so challenging, feeling like the answers were right there—within my reach, but far enough away to make it difficult to grasp. Then, the universe throws in a twist. My husband gets admitted to the hospital to take care of a newly diagnosed, but long-standing back problem. My manuscript, a minor problem compared to what life was handing us at that moment came with me. (Remember the obsession part?) I found myself setting up shop, paper, and pencil in hand in a hospital room.
Visiting hours offered unexpected down time and a perspective that I hadn't asked for. When the nurses rolled my husband out of the room, I found myself staring at walls, examining the bits of the room that generally go unnoticed, and photographing everyday objects. I revised the images with some iPhone effects, brightness, contrast, brilliance, and color. But my time spent tinkering with each photo was more than a distraction.
This day spent staring at the walls of a hospital room reminded me that we are always evolving. Our bodies, thoughts, goals, attitudes, skills, art work, and stories constantly change. Revision is endless. Sometimes it is planned and other times unexpected. Thankfully, we are home. I can't say the same for my manuscript yet, but I'm working on it.
Here's a list of revision tips inspired by the photos taken from visiting hours in a hospital room. (Hover over the image to read the tip or see below.)
I'd love to hear in the comments how your revision is going!
1. Go bold and colorful,
2. Highlight elements of the story. Is there too much dialogue, description, passive language?
3. Change the story structure.
4. Change the setting. (Taken from the parking lot.)
5. Clean it up. Get rid of parts that don't move the story forward.
6. Complete all circles. Close out any plot points introduced in the story.
7. Start from the end. Maybe your first lines should be your last!
8. Show the character arc. How did they change by the end?
9. Flush out anything that is not working, evey your darlings!
10. Try a fresh approach, something you haven't tried, something you've resisted.
11. Add a time constraint.
12. Allow time to reflect. Put the manuscript away.
13. Take a break. Have a snack.
14. Edit. Too many words? Leave some space.
15. Change the perspective.
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