With the long weekend in the US, I’m diving back into my VP novel for an editing pass. Not to put to fine a point on it, I don’t know what I’m doing. Previous attempts at editing novel-length fiction have typically taken a looong time, and while producing a greatly improved result, haven’t produced something I’d be comfortable pitching, say to an agent.
A few things I’m finding very helpful in getting me to ask the right questions:
Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. A great discussion of the Four Act Structure, which prior to this I’ve only found explained well in screenwriting books (where it is called a Three Act Structure, with the middle act divided into IIa and IIb). Great discussion on teasing apart the differences between Idea, Concept, Premise, and Theme, which help answer larger structural questions. An engineering-driven approach to story is a pretty easy sell for me, admittedly. 🙂
One-Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle, a blog posting by Holly Lisle (with additional details here). This is mostly useful for hammering the idea into my head that editing doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out process. Like writing, going fast can be not only more fun, but produce better results.
I’ve set a deadline (and am now publicly committing to it) of June 30 to complete all edits and have a ready-to-pitch novel.
If you’re revising, maybe you’ll find these tools useful as well.