This month’s #InkRipples topic is revision. I thought it would be fun to not only offer revision tips throughout the month, but to also stage some revision exercises. So, I’m hosting the first ever #InkRipples Workshop! If you missed last week’s tips and exercise, be sure to hop on over when you’re done here.
I promised murder and mayhem, didn’t I?
Revision Tip #3 (Murder)
Kill your darlings. I don’t mean Dumbledore. Somewhere along the way this saying became misinterpreted as killing off characters. What it really means is to cut the excess. Authors tend to love their words. Too much. Part of a good revision is to know when you have too many words in a section.
The first novel I wrote was my middle grade novel Beware of the White (currently unpublished, but stay tuned for a re-release and series expansion – finally!) This novel was all passive voice all the time and required a heck of a lot of revision. My first draft was over 85,000 words. The published version was just over 70k, I believe. I killed a LOT of my darlings. For example:
The [K1] you see at the end is a note from a kind person who critiqued an early version of the book. She said she worried that the scene was moving along too slowly. I agreed and cut all of these words from the scene (as well as others) to pick up the pace. This information was important for me, the author, to know, but not as important for the reader to know. By cutting this segment I took out 72 unnecessary words.
Revision Tip #4 (Mayhem)
Read aloud. This is an essential way to learn how your dialogue plays out. Is it natural? Does your character tend to say the same thing two different ways or repeat what you say in the text? Are your transitions choppy? Is there any awkward phrasing? Are you missing words? Do you use too many pronouns or the character’s name too often? All of this becomes more obvious in a read aloud.
I record myself reading so I can go back and read along as part of the editing process. If any of my kids are around – and have the time – I read to them at the same time so I can gauge their reactions. Do they laugh when I want them too? Are they begging me to continue when my voice gives out? I also pause to ask questions along the way. I try not to ask leading questions. I.e.; What do you expect the character to do next? How do you feel about the decisions he/she has made up to now?
Okay let’s get to work. I’ve plucked a segment from my short story, Lake Effect, a prequel to a super fun YA fantasy series I’m working on. I’ve intentionally screwed up these paragraphs (It was hard to do, btw) with run-on or choppy sentences, pronoun abuse or neglect, missing words, etc. Your assignment is to pick one or more or all of the following tasks. Post your work in comments if you want. There are no wrong answers!
They were so wrapped up in each other, their passion alive with smacking lips and breathy moans of pleasure that at first Kira didn’t realize they weren’t alone any longer on the dark lakeside beach. The lap of waves on sand was replaced by the sound of rain dripping from a rooftop. Reluctantly, Kira pulled her lips from Jayden’s and glanced toward the sound. Was Kira sleeping? But heated trail Jayden’s lips burned along Kira’s neck was too real to be a dream.
“What the hell?” she whispered. She was confused by what she saw. She leaned forward to get a better look. Her action drew Jayden’s attention away from her.
Water burbled and flowed upward out of the surface of the lake like a fountain you might find in front of a fancy hotel. But instead of falling back into the lake, it drew together into a humanoid form. The sight was unrealistic. Kira expected it to be accompanied by a horror movie soundtrack. Roars and growls, not the pleasant patter of water droplets of a waning summer storm. She stared with dread as the liquid man emerged from the lake. Too long of arms and eerily elongated fingers, already reaching forward even as they formed, curling and grabbing at the air. Oversized feet took shape at the bottom of thick legs as the creature rolled across the sand like a tidal wave.
The ceiling of stars reflected on the creature’s domed head and wide shoulders and Kira screamed, but fright stole the force behind her voice and only a squeak escaped from her lips. Jayden clutched her arms and stared shocked awe at the reformed water that stalked toward them. Within seconds the creature was upon them. Slipping between them. Pushing them apart until Jayden’s hands slipped away as the creature forced him backward, toward the lake.
1) Pick one paragraph and edit it.
2) Rewrite paragraph 3 to say roughly the same thing in only 75 words or less (currently 123 words)
3) Draw the creature and share the drawing on your FB and/or Twitter along with a link to this post. Share a link to the drawing in comments so we can visit you and tell you how amazing you are!
Come back next week for more clever tips and another assignment.