Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review: Revision and Self-Editing for Publication

It was hard to read this book on the heels of the beneficial books (Story Fix and Story Physics) by Larry Brooks. Brooks simply did a better job of articulating the concrete information you need before you set out to rework the rough draft of your novel. Much of the same information was offered, but I didn't enjoy the way the book was organized.

James Scott Bell offers up plenty of advice in his book Revision and Self-Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel that Sells. His chapters cover such familiar topics as characters, plot and structure, point of view, scenes, dialogue, etc. All of these things are worthy attributes to focus on when rewriting a manuscript and Bell does a great job of explaining why each aspect is important. Every chapter ends with a few exercises related to the topic at hand. I didn't bother with the exercises, and perhaps I should have, but I was more eager for the information than for the practice (and would rather focus my practice efforts on my manuscript rather than on other activities).

Bell is a big advocate of looking at the big picture in your first rewrite and then going back in for the details and minor corrections. While not as adamant about the need to structure your novel prior to starting it (a premise Brooks hammers), Bell does focus on the appropriate structure for adequate storytelling. I benefited from the sections on enhancing and solidifying your characters for the reader. I would still have to say I gained more from Brooks's books, but it was helpful to come at it from another writing instructor's viewpoint.

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