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September 15, 2010 / Chersti Nieveen

revising: 10 quick tips to polish your gem

Revision.

The magic word for any writer. It’s that moment where the author is able to take a rough stone and make it shine. So as you are heading into your own revisions, here are 10 common mistakes to look for as you are revising.

  1. Dialogue: Is the dialogue strong and real? Try reading the dialogue out loud — does it sound authentic? Can you tell who is speaking without looking at the tags?
  2. Character consistency: Does your character suddenly do something that s/he would never do? Is your voice / character consistent?
  3. Introductions: Are you introducing too many people at once? This is especially important at the beginnings, when names and faces might blur together for the reader.
  4. Individualistic: Are characters distinct—or do they all sound, act and etc the same?
  5. Focus: are you bringing up something in the story and never using it again. An example is spending two pages talking about the mirror in the bathroom, when it never comes up in the story again. Use your writing space wisely!
  6. Blocking: Is there good blocking in every scene? Just like in a play, can the reader “see” where the characters are and what is around them?
  7. Beginning: Does your story start in the right spot? What has happened to make this day different for your main character? Do we get too much back story too soon?
  8. Emotions: Can we see the main characters emotions? Can we feel them in every scene?
  9. Adverbs / Adjectives: Can you replace your -ly words with a stronger verb? Can you take out the way wherever you use it with “-ing” (ex: he was smiling)
  10. Writing Rules: Do you know the rules before you break them? Do you know WHY you are breaking a certain rule? If not, you may want to rethink the situation.

Questions about any of these revision tips or in need of clarification, just let me know in the comments! And remember that this list is just a starting point when it comes to revising your writing. Good luck!

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7 Comments

  1. amie borst / Sep 15 2010 6:45 am

    great tips chersti! thanks for sharing them!

  2. Jenilyn Tolley / Sep 15 2010 10:46 am

    So, do you want to revise mine for me? 🙂

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Rebecca Carlson / Sep 16 2010 12:24 am

    When you say “writing rules” do you mean grammar rules?

  4. Chersti Nieveen / Sep 16 2010 8:01 am

    @Rebecca
    Part of it is the grammar rules (like using an incomplete sentences). The other part is those “rules” we learn in classes or at conference — such things as “only use ‘ask’ or ‘said’ as a tag.” I agree with that rule in general, but sometimes (like once in a blue moon type of sometimes) you need to use another word to convey the story properly. That is just a small “writing rule,” but there are a lot of those out there. Hope that makes sense!

  5. Rebecca Carlson / Sep 16 2010 1:27 pm

    I was thinking that it could go as far as plotting conventions. “Audiences know what they expect and that is all they are prepared to believe in.”

    • Chersti Nieveen / Sep 16 2010 9:06 pm

      Ooohh, that’s good! Didn’t even think of that. I always knew you were brilliant, so I shouldn’t even be surprised. lol!

  6. Michelle Vann / Sep 28 2010 5:32 am

    I’d like to add that we must delve into first five pages, or first chapter, to bring out the most colorful and compelling hooks to grab a reader’s attention that we possibly can!

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