THE LAST DRAFT: A NOVELIST'S GUIDE TO REVISION
The long perspective:
I've assumed that my reader is writing a novel or wants to. But maybe you want something else: to be a novelist. Maybe you are starting on a life's journey. If so, I think this book will help, because if you study all of it, if you read all the novels and craft books I recommend, if you make all these concepts and skills your own, you will have a strong foundation. Many of the ideas I am exploring are never discussed comprehensively (if at all) in classes or programs. There isn't enough time, and there is an overemphasis on short fiction, for practical reasons. Some concepts are mentioned, of course, across disparate texts, such as books about plotting, and you may end up comparing what different writers advise. Choose what makes sense to you and leave the rest aside for now. Writing doesn't follow a recipe. We aren't baking cakes here. Of course you may sometimes disagree with me; articulating why you see an issue another way is useful, too. My main role is to give you a scheme for organizing your revision. If you have read other books on writing novels, some topics will be familiar, though my vocabulary may be different. Some ideas will probably be new to you. Mostly, you will start to build your own strategies for writing and revising fiction.
Simply follow the general outline:
Describe your story concept and intention.
Describe the way you have put the story down.
Think about various structural issues.
Identify your areas of concern.
Articulate the goals of your revision.
Decide what goes, what stays, what gets written.
Make a plan.
Give your manuscript a loving gloss.
*Write a statement of intention. What do you hope to accomplish? How much time can you give to the effort? Do you have any kind of peer support? (Someone you can report your progress to? Another writer who is also using the book to revise her own manuscript?)
*Have you chosen at least one book you like, to work with as you go through the revision sections? Start by writing a short summary of the book--just a few sentences. Write down why you like the book; be specific: characters? scenes? descriptions? structure of chapters? feeling of suspense?