Amy Dominy, OyMG, YA, May 2011
Introduced first in 2007, debut children’s authors have formed a cooperative effort to market their books. I featured Revision Stories from the Classes of 2k8 and 2k9 and this feature returns this year with the Class of 2k11.
HOW TO HANDLE REVISION NOTES WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND
Guest post by Amy Dominy
We’ve all been there, right? You hand off your perfect manuscript to let someone read it, and when you get it back—WHAT?—there are notes on it?
Revisions notes can come from a variety of people and take a variety of forms. Maybe your writer’s group has jotted down notes in the margin of your pages. Maybe you’ve been to a conference and received a typewritten critique from an editor or another author. Or maybe you sent a proposal to an agent who agreed to look at more if you’ll make just a few changes. For me, my latest revision notes came from my editor in the form of a letter…4 pages long. (Single-spaced!)
However revisions turn up, they can break your heart and lead you to a tub of chocolate therapy. For the sake of my sanity (and my waistline), I’ve had to come up with a way to tackle revision notes. This is what I wanted to share with you today.
7 Steps to Revision
- READ THE REVISION LETTER/NOTES.
A. It will say something like this: Blah, blah, blah YOU’RE HOPELESS Blah, blah, blah IT’S ALL WRONG Blah, blah, blah GIVE UP NOW Blah, blah, blah IS IT TOO LATE TO GET A REAL ESTATE LICENSE?
(Of course it won’t say any of this, but that’s what you’ll absorb.)
- PUT THE REVISION NOTES AWAY For at least a day or two. No arguing!
- TAKE OUT THE REVISION NOTES & READ THEM AGAIN.
This time, you should be able to see past the emotional reaction and actually evaluate the comments. (NOTE: If you still see only hopelessness, go back to #1 and Repeat.)
- MARK UP THE NOTES
- I highlight the comments I agree with and need to act on.
- I underline suggestions that I DON’T agree with. (I want to go back into the story, and figure out if I have an underlying problem that can be fixed in a different way.)
- I circle any changes I know for certain that I WON’T make. Remember, this is your book and ultimately it has to feel right to you. That said, if the revisions are for an agent or an editor, you’ll want to explain your rationale for leaving the story as it was.
When you’re done, you should be able to clearly see what you need to address, what you need to evaluate, and what you need to ignore.
- BREAK DOWN THE REVISIONS: START SMALL
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
It’s an old joke, but it applies to revisions as well as elephants. Revision notes can be overwhelming. Sometimes, my first reaction is to freeze up. It’s too much. I can’t do it all.
That’s okay. You don’t have to do it all.
You just have to do one little thing.
And start that way—with something small. Something easily handled. When I look over the comments I’ve highlighted, there are always a couple of things I can fix in a sentence or a paragraph.
Then, by the time I move on to the harder stuff, I’ve already made progress.
- CHECK OFF EACH REVISION AS YOU MAKE IT.
This is a great thing to do for a few reasons:
- You can keep track of your progress
- Give yourself credit for the revisions you’ve made.
- Avoid missing something (which I’ve done before and is very embarrassing.)
You’ve got a revised book…and your sanity!!
So there it is. It’s worked for me. I hope it’ll work for you.