You say you’re revising your draft, but are you really? In the past, I’ve thought I was revising a manuscript when in fact I was really just editing it.
A revision is just that: a “re-visioning” of the story – looking at it in a whole new way. It’s easy to think you’re revising when what you’re really doing is making small edits, reworking sentences, and tightening up scenes and dialogue. Those things are important but don’t go far enough to truly create a publishable manuscript.
Instead, when you’re ready to dive into revisions, think big. Open your mind and pen to rethink every aspect of your manuscript.
To move into re-vision mode, consider these questions:
- Use a logline to maintain focus. A logline is one sentence (at most two) that conveys the dramatic story of your novel or screenplay boiled down in the most succinct way possible. It presents the major throughline of the narrative without details about subplots or characters. As you begin to revise, go back to your logline or create one if you haven’t already. Read more
Ever heard the saying, “Ideas are a dime a dozen?” While it’s true that ideas can be found everywhere we look, it’s not true that every idea is worthy of a story or can sustain an entire novel. That’s why I like to write in a variety of mediums: poetry, short story, novels, even songs. Most of my ideas can find a home in one of these genres.
But how do you know if your idea can sustain a novel? One way to do this is by writing a logline or a premise statement. Whatever you want to call it, this is a one- to two-sentence summary of your story that includes the protagonist or hero (including a type of person and an adjective that describes him), his goal, the antagonist, the main conflict, and action (plot).
In “Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success,” K.M. Weiland calls her one-liner the premise sentence. Here’s her premise sentence for her novel Dreamlander: Read more
In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of writing down your one-sentence original idea. This is the very first idea you had—whether it’s about plot, character, or theme—that got you excited about writing your story. Reading your original idea each day before writing will keep you focused on your story.
Another exercise is to develop your one-sentence logline. In his book, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, screenwriter Blake Snyder said that if we develop our logline before we begin writing, it will help us write a better manuscript.
According to Snyder, there are four main elements to a great logline:
- A good logline has to have irony. He gives an example from the blockbuster movie Pretty Woman: “A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend.” Pretty ironic, huh? Another way to define irony, Snyder said, is that something unexpected happens. He also calls this the “hook.” Read more