Revision Techniques from Cheryl Klein
I had the great pleasure of attending a class on revision techniques given by the esteemed Senior Editor, Cheryl Klein from Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic). Cheryl’s book Second Sight was released earlier this month and it includes her complete list for revision. Her book also includes additional tips and editorial insight.
Her lesson was divided into three sections, each examining a different aspect of the revision process: vision, examination, and action. I’ve included some the techniques she discussed.
· Take time off from the project.
· Write the spine of the story in one sentence (overall action that is accomplished in the book)
· Write the flap copy – or rather, a 250-word summary that gives away the ending.
· Make a collage for the book - images that are key to the story.
· Make a playlist for individual chapters, characters, or the book as a whole.
· Change the font, then print out and read the entire manuscript on the page before making any revisions.
· As you read, take notes on both the good stuff and the bad.
· List the first ten things each significant character says or does (include internal thought for your POV character)
· Run the plot checklist at www.cherylklein.com/plotchecklist.html
· Book map the action of the book chapter by chapter/scene by scene. Visit Anita Nolan's site.(www.anitanolan.com/theend.html)
· Mini-map: for each chapter provide a one-sentence summary of the action and then identify the climax-point of each individual scene. Look for redundancies and lack of action or advancement in these climaxes.
· Set a deadline for completing each stage of revision, and a reward for each one.
· Cut as many adverbs, telling uses of the word “feel” or “felt,” non-“said” dialogue tags, and unhelpful “babies” as you possibly can.
· Check the first line of the book for its hook, and the last lines of every scene and chapter for the intended emotional resonance.
· Read the book aloud, or better yet, have it read to you.
I believe Cheryl is still in the process of tweeting these revision techniques, so keep your eye out for them. Also, I recommend you purchase her book, because not only will you find the complete list, but you will find a treasure trove of other invaluable information.