April 29, 2010

How to Find What's Really Important in Your Book (and write a pre-revision synopsis)

Lessons 8 and 9 were helpful, and I think I can share a little more of what's going on in these lessons so it can help you. (To read more about my HTRYN lessons, click here. To get to the course page, click here.)

First, before you start really digging into revision, you need to know what you're aiming for. That's logic, right? So lesson 9 simply has you make a list of things you know are important: 3 things that are vital to your story, 3 most important conflicts/scenes/characters/parts of your world. Pretty simple stuff, but it helps to see it all in front of you. Holly also asks you to write about why you wrote this book and what you learned from it, to help you keep your perspective.

Lesson 8 was... well... a little painful. First we created a synopsis of the story we had. (NOT the book we want to have when we're done. The crappy version.) Each paragraph has something we like about that part of the book and something we want to change. I think being able to look back at this synopsis and seeing how much has changed is going to be phenomenal. I look forward to that day. :)

Then we write about our themes. What they are, how we did them right, where they could be stronger, and where they absolutely suck. What can I say? Lesson 8 is all about honesty.

And then comes the REALLY honest parts. Holly has you analyze your book (the crappy version) and then write yourself a negative review. Like what you might find at Amazon.com, this would be a review that's objective, but has a 1-star rating. Yeah. Ouch.

And THEN you write a 1-sentence rejection for your book as if you're an editor. Yeah. Double ouch. The goal is to be objective and summarize the very worst aspects of your rough draft. My rejection went something like:

The characters fall flat on the page, lacking consistent voice, emotion, and action.

Yeah, it's a little harsh. But if I can fix that, I'm golden. And I think I have to tools to fix these problems now. So yeah, these lessons hurt, but they bring a lot of hope to the table too. Which is good, because lesson 10 is greuling.

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