Reading Helps Revision Process: Guest Post by AnneMarie O’Brien

Guest post by Annemarie O’Brien
Annemarie Obrien is celebrating the release of her novel, LARA’S GIFT. She talks here about the revision process.

The seed for LARA’S GIFT was born over twenty years ago when I was gifted a borzoi puppy while I was working in Russia. It was such a magical moment in my life that I knew it would one day inspire the kind of story I would have wanted to read as a kid.

Although I could easily see Lara’s story unfold in my head, the biggest challenge I had in writing LARA’S GIFT was where to start it. I must have written and re-written the opening scene thirty times before I landed on the final version. And while I wasn’t able to use any of these openings in my manuscript, all of them were beneficial to me as a writer. Each failed attempt informed future revisions and helped me dig more deeply as I tried to “re-think” and “re-envision” a new opening.

Because kids often juggle multiple high-tech gadgets, it’s essential to immediately grab your reader’s attention by evoking some kind of emotion in your reader within the first 150 words through a believable character, planted in a unique setting, with a distinct voice and meaningful goal pitted against a hint of conflict. Tall order, huh?

The “ah-ha” moment behind what finally became “the opening” of LARA’S GIFT came to me when I read the prologue in TAMAR written by Mal Peet. It was so brilliantly crafted that it not only made me curious, it also made me sit back and pause, especially since I wasn’t a fan of prologues and never read them as a kid. Prologue to me meant start with chapter one.

Mal Peet’s prologue in TAMAR changed all that. It not only hooked me, but it also pointed me to what I needed to kick start LARA’S GIFT. It’s what I call a “defining-moment-in-the-past” prologue that would:

  • put Lara in a unique Russian setting
  • show us how important the borzoi dogs are to her
  • reveal the conflict of her visions

There are plenty of revision techniques to explore as you revise your own story. The one approach that has shaped my craft and helped me solve trouble spots in my own manuscripts is reading. Every book I read teaches me something and shows me how other authors handle craft from story structure, language, plot, to scene building and satisfying endings. So read as many books as you can and read them as a writer with an analytical eye on craft.

WIN A COPY OF LARA’S GIFT! Leave a comment and share this post on some social media platform to win a copy of LARA’S GIFT. For every share, your name will be entered into the drawing pot. The winner will be drawn and announced by Darcy Pattison on August 20 on Fiction Notes.

For more opportunities to win a copy of LARA’S GIFT and/or a manuscript critique by Deborah Halverson from Dear Editor, check out these internet sites on these dates:
Fiction Notes (7/31)
Kissing the Earth (8/1)
Quirk and Quill (8/1)
Simple Saturday (8/1)
Coffee with a Canine (8/5)
Dog Reads (8/5)
World Reads (8/5)
Dear Editor (8/6)
Word Spelunking (8/7)
Random Acts of Reading (8/8)
The Hiding Spot (8/9)
Beth Fish Reads (8/13).

For more information about LARA’S GIFT, check out:

For a Teacher’s Guide:

Lara’s Gift Book Trailer

If you can’t see this video, click here.

4 responses to “Reading Helps Revision Process: Guest Post by AnneMarie O’Brien”