How do I revise thee? Let me count the ways...

Welcome back! Happy New Year!

It’s revision time here. Or do I mean editing?


No. Revision. That’s the process where we step back and look at the whole forest of plot points and characters and what scenes go where, while editing is the paragraphs, sentences, words.

I’ve been using information from three bloggers— Jami Gold, Janice Hardy, and KM Wieland— to sort through my weaknesses of:

  • getting a consistent goal on the page,

  • getting motivation on the page, and

  • getting the stakes on the page.

You noticed the commonalities among those three points? Getting it on the page! That’s pretty important for the reading of the story. If the goals, motivations, or stakes for the protagonist and the antagonist are not evident, or at least alluded to, there’s no tension in the story and if there’s no tension, why would anyone at all be interested in reading to the end of the story?

Creating A Worksheet

I’ve created worksheets. Several.

From Jami Gold’s blogs on Broken Story and on Missing Motivations or Stakes, the worksheets are simple word docs. I type her questions then answer it from the information I have written in my story.

It does sound like homework but it’s much more fun because it’s about a story that I am still thoroughly enthralled with and I’m trying to get it all out of my head and onto the page so readers will find it just as thrilling.

As I answer the questions, if I find I have not put this information, somehow, into the story, I either go right there to write it in OR, if it’s complicated, I’ll highlight that answer so I can go back later and find it after I’m done answering all her questions.

It’s not easy work. Broken Story alone has nine steps. I was able to complete Steps 1- 4 in one day on Dec 28, 2018!

Yes, I dated each step as that gives me a sense of accomplishment.

applying the Steps

What are the steps for Broken Story from Jami Gold’s blog? Here is how I handled her first three steps.

  • Step 1 - Identify what I’m trying to say in the story.

    Here I wrote down my theme. Since my theme focuses on coping with various levels of violence, I broke it down into the different levels and different types that happen in the story. The spectrum of violence encompasses: physical, emotional, economic, institutional, societal, and familial. I also looked at the opposite of violence and listed specifically what the antidote to violence is. What does love and courage look like in my story.

  • Step 2 - Identify what pieces of the story fit with this and what pieces don’t. Do the plot developments, character insights, story elements tie into the theme identified in Step 1. Do my subplots reflect the theme of dealing with violence through courage and love? Do any aspects of my story undermine the theme and focus of my story?

  • Step 3 - Are there enough scenes that fit the theme or are there enough bits and pieces of the theme that all I need to do is tweak or shift the scene a bit so that it’ll refocus on the big picture again.

I have found this process helpful for layering my story and making sure I have on the page, what I have envisioned in my imagination.

How do you handle revisions?