Week of August 5, 2012—Odds and Ends
Friday, August 10—Words of Wisdom from Linda Arms White
Linda Arms White
Author and Writing Coach
How do you know when to revise something, or give it a funeral?
First, don’t send a manuscript out until you have complete confidence in it. Every word of every line of every paragraph must pass your own hard-tuned barometer as well as those of other writers . . . a critique group, professional critique, etc. before you mail it out. Once you do submit, I’d keep submitting until I’d received rejections from at least a dozen agents and/or editors. Then, if I’d received any helpful comments along the way or had a great, sound idea for revision, I’d rewrite. If not, I’d put it [the manuscript] away until I did or I had learned more as a writer, then look at it again. You may find then, that the story never was strong enough, the character’s problem was not compelling enough, or the writing style not lively enough. At that point, you’ll know what your story needs.
Do you have any tips for revision you could share?
My approach to revision is to go back to the beginning and reexamine those early decisions. First, and probably most important, is the idea strong enough? There’s so much competition. Can this story idea be as strong as published books? Then, break the story apart and look at each of the components—the plot, character, writing style, theme, etc. Can you improve on any of them? Do we like the character enough and is his problem important enough that we care if he succeeds? Does the writing style match the mood of the story? If the story was not outlined in the planning, could an outline now help you find holes in the plot? If you love a story enough to work on it as long as it takes to complete it, it’s much more satisfying to revive it than bury it.
Some of Rob’s favorite picture books by Linda: