Friday, January 28, 2011

Writers Intensive Panel--The Process of Revision: Challenges & Rewards

l to r: Aaron Hartler, Nancy Conescu, Rachel Griffiths, Michelle Poploff

SCBWI's own Aaron Hartzler moderates a panel of editors offering post-critiqe advice. Here are some highlights.

Nancy Consescu (Dial): Revision is a process. Post critique, you have to consider the various comments, decide how to address things, and try different things until you get to what works. She asks her authors to start with making big changes that will resonate through the manuscript. She suggests really looking at your chapter endings and be sure you're giving readers a reason to turn the page. Also really look at the dialogue specific to each character to be sure what they say rings true to each character. She stresses, as you work with an editor, that there's a period of digesting the suggestion that must take place.

Rachel Griffiths (Scholastic): She hopes that a manuscript has been revised maybe ten times by the time it gets to her. She suggest that writers pay attention to what you're feeling as you read it--does your mind wander, is something is confusing? If you're ever stuck on a revision, you just work on it, go over things over and over again, and it eventually it can turn into something magical. She reads through and looks for one flash of greatness in a mediocre manuscript, and suggests her authors revise the rest of the pages to get to that level. She hopes that's authors take about 50% of her revision suggestions and that they don't work with the suggestions that don't feel true to them. She stresses the importance of working on your craft because that's what makes you get better and better and grow as a writer.

Michelle Poploff (Delacorte): (Note: She was the editor for this year's Newbery winner MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool, the first debut author to win the award in 30 years. Also note: She's found four authors at SCBWI conference over the past few years.) The revision process between writer and editor varies depending on authors preferences and working style. She always tells authors to read out loud and she's a big fan of writers groups, saying that if you belong to a writing group, they can be very helpful advocates. She also suggests writers let things percoloate for a while as you revise. Revision is like redecorating, and sometimes you rearrange all the furniture in the room, and still there's still a lamp that's in the wrong place. She wants authors she works with to take their time to do the very very best they can on revising.

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