Christy and Sharon discuss Re-envisioning vs Revising
Topics covered include:
- the importance of re-envisioning vs revising a manuscript to ensure that it achieves the author’s intended point. They emphasized the need to take a step back and look at the big picture, focusing on character arc, plot structure, and other key elements.
- the importance of taking a break from a manuscript to gain distance and perspective, allowing the subconscious to work out the story’s components. They emphasized the need to focus on the story’s vision and purpose rather than getting bogged down in minor details.
- various tools and methods for identifying what’s working and what’s not in a manuscript, such as the Stoplight Method, Hierarchy of Editorial Needs, Inside Outline, and synopsis. They emphasized the importance of taking a step back and looking at the big picture before focusing on line-level perfection.
- the importance of doing an inventory of scenes and subplots in a manuscript before revising. They emphasized the need to re-envision the story and make intentional changes that serve the story, even if it means discarding beloved scenes or ideas.
- the importance of revising a manuscript by focusing on the big picture elements such as plot, character development, and structure before moving on to line editing and polishing. They emphasized the need to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript and to not get caught up in perfectionism.
- revisioning and shared tools and tips for writers to improve their manuscripts, including a worksheet and a spreadsheet. They emphasized the importance of finding the right tools and processes that work for each individual writer.
Sharon’s Manuscript Triage and First-Aid Basics: https://bookcoachingbysharon.com/manuscript-triage-and-first-aid-basics/
Christy’s Story Map Template: https://christyyaros.com/writer-resources
Coaching KidLit Transcript – Episode 17 – Re-envisioning vs Revising
[00:00:41] Christy Yaros: Hey, Sharon.
[00:00:42] Sharon Skinner: Hey, Christy, how are ya?
[00:00:44] Christy Yaros: I’m good. How are you? Are you ready to talk about some revision today?
[00:00:49] Sharon Skinner: I am, I think this is a great topic because I’m seeing a lot of clients and a lot of writers I’m talking to right now who are, they have draft of their manuscripts and now they need to figure out how to make it really work. And a lot of people struggle with this. So I think this’s a great time for us to talk about this.
[00:01:11] Christy Yaros: I love talking about revision, especially because I think that most of us have been taught to do it wrong, and when people hear what they’re doing wrong, it usually blows their mind. let’s not start from page one and go chronologically through our manuscript and make little changes here and there.
[00:01:33] Sharon Skinner: Right? Because that’s not really revision. That falls more under maybe revising or even editing. So I, I agree with you. We’ve all, we learned it wrong. We need to now shift our paradigm a little bit and look at the difference between revision and revise. And if you look at the definitions of the two words, revision is revising the original vision, whereas revising is making changes to the original.
[00:02:09] Sharon Skinner: So it’s, the difference is really those line level changes or those lower level changes, that you’re making when you’re revising versus the whole key to me revising the original vision or redoing the original vision. And Darcy Pattison talked about this a long time ago when I did a workshop with her where she talked about reVISIONing versus revising.
[00:02:42] Sharon Skinner: And to me, it makes my brain nowadays think more in terms of re-envisioning the story.
[00:02:50] Christy Yaros: Yes. I mean, the holistic approach is absolutely what writers should be going for, and that’s really a hard shift in mindset, right? Because when we’re writing, we are going piece by piece and usually chronologically or at least a whole scene at a time. But now we have a draft, and for me, the definition of a draft is just I have reached the end.
[00:03:15] Christy Yaros: It doesn’t matter how much is in it, how little is in it. Some of us write short, some of us write very long, but you have told the story from beginning to end, and now you need to take a step back and you need to zoom way out and take a look at the whole thing. And I think that’s absolutely a mindset shift from being in the weeds.
[00:03:38] Sharon Skinner: and again, too, it’s looking at the bigger picture, what you just said, that, getting that high level look at it rather than down in those weeds. And, oh, I’m gonna tweak this little sentence here. Or, oh, I need to change my phrasing on that. That’s really not what we’re talking about.
[00:03:54] Sharon Skinner: We’re talking about stepping back, like you said, and taking a look at what’s working and what’s not working in the story. And those are the big picture things like character arc, plot, structure, all of the really, the big things that we’re talking about and in, we’re not even talking yet about necessarily continuity issues.
[00:04:18] Sharon Skinner: I think that that even comes in a little later, when you have gotten to the point where you’ve told the story you really wanna tell, and it’s firing on mostly all cylinders, right? So there are a lot of tools that we can use for the process of re-envisioning our manuscripts and getting back away from that.
[00:04:42] Sharon Skinner: That messy draft, which to me, I call that the clay. That’s my lump of clay. If you’re a sculptor, you gotta have a lump of clay in order to refine it. And that’s the lump of clay. And if you have a block of clay sitting there and you’ve kind of scraped out the shape of, say, a sculpture, just kind of roughed it out, that’s where I would say we’re at when we start to be in the place of re-envisioning for our manuscript, for our story, because now we’re going to push a little harder over here and pull some more clay over there and start to refine it so that it looks more like what we want it to look like.
[00:05:20] Sharon Skinner: But this is not Polish, this is not final edits. This is just reshaping the story to get it to really do what our intent is.
[00:05:32] Christy Yaros: I think that’s really important what you said there. The point here is to get it to what you want the story to be. And we have this idea in our head when we sit down to write something or I think any artistic endeavor in your head, it’s beautiful, right? It’s gonna come out fully formed and we’re gonna publish it tomorrow and it’s amazing.
[00:05:52] Christy Yaros: And then you look at what comes out and it’s just nowhere near what either what you thought it was gonna be in your head or as you’re doing it, something else has come out. And maybe that’s something is better. And this is where you need to say, okay. And this is one of the things that I know both of us will push with our clients, is really knowing beforehand what, at least what you’re trying to do so that you have a goal to, to work towards.
[00:06:22] Christy Yaros: Because what I tell my clients is, once you’ve hired me and we figure out what story you’re trying to tell, like I now work for your story. And you are secondary. You have said to me, this is what I want my story to be, and then we’re gonna do whatever we can to get it as close to that as possible. And that means putting your ego aside and doing what’s best for your story.
[00:06:49] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, I think that’s a great way to approach it with clients. It’s absolutely, and we use a lot of tools with our clients and we’ve learned a lot of things along the way, and one of the things that we focus on is knowing the point is that the story should be making and what the author wants to make with their story.
[00:07:11] Sharon Skinner: And that’s really critical what the point is. I always try and pull my authors back to that. You’ve got a point here, but you’re veering off course. I can tell when you’re veering off course because I know where we’re headed now because you’ve decided that’s where we’re headed. And honestly, that’s not written in stone.
[00:07:32] Sharon Skinner: You can change that down the way if some, if you have one of those moments where you realize, oh my gosh, that’s the story I thought I was telling or wanted to tell, but what I’ve got here in the manuscript, there is a golden moment that really resonates much more with me as an author that I want to focus on.
[00:07:54] Sharon Skinner: And then again, you’re still looking at those, the big picture and you’re still having to pull out now the chunks of the things that were leading you in the other direction. So it’s really critical to know the point you are trying to make. And if that changes, refocusing your energy on making sure that the point that you’re trying to make is what the story is actually accomplishing.
[00:08:18] Christy Yaros: because our subconscious is going to pull out things that will amaze us more often than not. I think you find that there are things in there that you never really intended to do, but kind of just wove together in your subconscious and came out like, wow, that’s really deep. Look at all those layers.
[00:08:37] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, exactly. And I love talking about the subconscious churn. I always tell a lot of my writers when they’re struggling, I tell them, listen, 80% of the writing is what’s happening in your brain. It’s not the physical act of putting the words down on the paper. It’s what’s going on inside your brain as you’re figuring out what the words are that you need in order to tell the story.
[00:09:00] Christy Yaros: Yeah, even, and I think your process is the same when we do manuscript evaluations for clients, I will book a month. I’m not spending a month reading. I go through it and I do my thing, and then I sit with that for a week or two in my head and let my own subconscious work out some of the things that I have read and what the writer has told me that they wanna do to come up with that editorial letter in the end, that gives them a path forward. So you need to do the same thing. So if you’ve just finished your draft, you need to one, take a step back and take a break. That is hard. That is a very hard thing. I have fought with many a writer about that need for that space to let it breathe for at least a month, I would say.
[00:09:47] Christy Yaros: What do you usually suggest?
[00:09:49] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, I think three to six weeks for most writers to get away from it, far enough away from it to be able to come back with fresh eyes. So a month is pretty much right in that ballpark. I know I do exactly the same thing you’re talking about when you know I will. I can read the manuscript a lot more quickly than four weeks or six weeks, depending on the length of it, how many words there are, but I need to sleep on it a few times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been falling asleep at night and realized that’s what’s missing from that client’s manuscript. Or, oh, I need to make a note of this because that is the component that was alluding me in searching for what they were trying to accomplish, or that’s why I didn’t connect with that character.
[00:10:35] Sharon Skinner: it’s those kinds of things, and you can do the same thing. If you can get enough distance from your own manuscript, you can do exactly what we’re talking about. we still need some distance from your manuscript when we’ve just gone through and read it. Just think about that and then you’ve had your head all up in it, this story, this story, this story for months, maybe years, and you’ve got to be able to give yourself some space for your brain. To get that distance away from the story so that you can come back with a fresh brain, with fresh eyes and see more clearly, and that’s where the word vision like really comes in. The re-envisioning of the story is when you can see clearly what’s happening. You can see the vision or what’s missing from that vi original vision or how it’s morphed, and then you can tell what needs to be done.
[00:11:33] Christy Yaros: One of the things that we’ve, I think we’ve talked about this before on the podcast, the writer’s burden of knowledge. We know what we were intending to put on the page. Whether or not it ended up on the page is another story. So having that space between where you’re just so involved in the words on the page.
[00:11:54] Christy Yaros: This is something I also argued with my writers about, like, I don’t care about the words that are on your page. There. I said it, it’s controversial. Fine at a certain point until we are ready to really do what The editing, I don’t care about the actual words that are on your page. I care about what it is that they’re trying to do.
[00:12:17] Christy Yaros: And you need to get yourself to the point where you can, uh, separate for yourself the actual words on the page. And it’s hard. I was trying to put together a worksheet for one of my clients and when I’m trying to come up with a template, I need, I can’t just make a blank template. I need something that I’m making a template from.
[00:12:38] Christy Yaros: So I pulled out one of my own work, right? All I needed to do was look at one freaking thing. What did I do? Read my entire manuscript. Why, why did I need to read an entire manuscript to pull out two elements that I could have gotten from the first page, and now who remembers what I was doing? I’ve wasted three hours.
[00:13:00] Christy Yaros: I’m changing commas. First of all, not even what I was intending to do in the first place, but counterproductive. And it’s the same thing. So writers, you need to back out of the manuscript because those little changes, they’re, I get why we do it. One, we were taught in school, this is how we write an essay, right?
[00:13:24] Christy Yaros: We go back through, we read, we’re proofreading, we’re not proofreading here. it doesn’t matter. and also it’s safe,
[00:13:35] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, it’s, yeah. You don’t have to look at, oh, what, oh, the big thing, the big thing I have to do. No, I can do the little stuff, the little twiddly, tweaky stuff that I know, and I know how to fix it. That’s the other thing. So whether you are looking at your manuscript yourself, or whether you’ve had someone give you an editorial letter or a developmental edit letter, some feedback on it, the difference between maybe an, developmental edit from a straight up editor and a book coach is often that we’re there along the way to also help you implement the fixes and the changes and help you find the solutions that will work best for your story. But if you’re sitting there and all you have is a collection of all the things that are, have been identified that are wrong with it, where do you start? How do I get into this? It’s a lot. It’s, it’s the whole, it’s the elephant and I don’t even know which bite to eat first on, eating the elephant one bite at a time, which now I, now that I’ve said that, I hate the idea of even eating an elephant.
[00:14:37] Sharon Skinner: That’s just terrible. I should never use that analogy ever again. But the point being, going back to your burden of knowledge. The other piece to that too is when you’re trying to identify what’s working and what’s not working, We have a tendency to know all the different thoughts that we had about the story.
[00:14:56] Sharon Skinner: They’re still in our heads. the original way we wrote a character or the way they morphed, all those versions of that character are still in our heads. There’s gotta be a way to back up and identify the things that are working the way we want them to work or the things that need to stay in the manuscript and the things that need to come out.
[00:15:15] Sharon Skinner: And so we have some tools that we use for that. When we do developmental edits, for example, on a manuscript, we use a stoplight method or the hierarchy of editorial needs where we are looking for very specific things.
[00:15:33] Christy Yaros: Because again, there, think of it like you are, when you’re building a house, we don’t care about the wallpaper right now. We don’t care what color the carpet is because if, there’s no foundation, if there’s no first floor, doesn’t matter what the roof looks like yet. So we gotta start from the big things and also even from the perspective of what you’re trying to, if you do not have an agent and you are seeking traditional publication, the job of your manuscript is to get an agent and they’re going to want to put their own spin on, on it based on the market and what’s selling or what they think they can sell and the knowledge that they have of things.
[00:16:19] Christy Yaros: Focusing so much on this concept of perfection on a line level, and a lot of writers will end up missing the big picture, which is why they ask for a synopsis, right? The difference between a query and a synopsis where the synopsis gives away the ending tells the whole story because they need to see, can you actually tell a whole story?
[00:16:42] Christy Yaros: Synopsis is a good tool for big picture to, to take a step back. So if you have not done that, you should do that for yours, and you can often tell it, Hmm, I can’t write the synopsis because maybe my story isn’t actually working.
[00:16:59] Sharon Skinner: and a great tool to help with that is also the inside outline that we use, which we can do an As is outline of the story. If the authors can sit down and take a story and do an As is outline of it, an inside outline of it. And that really means what’s, what is this scene? What’s happening in the scene, and why is it, does it matter for all of the key scenes?
[00:17:23] Sharon Skinner: Then you’ll know if you’re missing something or if stuff is tangentially being tossed in, or if things are falling by the wayside or if you’re, going off track. It makes a big difference. And then you can use that inside outline though when you’re done. With doing your revisioning, not your revising, but your revisioning.
[00:17:43] Sharon Skinner: If you want to turn that into a synopsis, that’s a great way to actually shortcut into a synopsis because it’s really hard after you’ve built this entire world and written 120,000 pages or 60,000 if you’re doing middle grade, and then turning that into a single page, or 500 word synopsis.
[00:18:07] Christy Yaros: Which you, you are gonna have to do, if you’re gonna query, you are gonna have to do that. So better to have that information in advance. But any of the major craft books that we like to use Will, will definitely recommend before you start revising or even re-envisioning that you take that inventory of what is actually on the page and that is a way to zoom out by thinking in chapters or better in scenes and putting a brief, one or two sentences of what is the action that is happening in this scene.
[00:18:37] Christy Yaros: And then like you said, why it matters. What’s the, so you’re capturing the action and the emotion in each scene. And now you can put, and this is a hard part too, right? Then you can put that manuscript kind of away for now, and you’re not looking at those words anymore and you’re not reading your whole manuscript when you were trying to just take a peek at one scene.
[00:18:56] Christy Yaros: But making that list, Whatever it is that you wanna call it, and however it is that you wanna do it. I know some writers will do it in Word, some people use Scrivener. You can add those little summaries so that you can see that at a glance. In Scrivener, you can use my favorite tools, spreadsheets, or notion or note cards or giant piece of paper that looks like a chart or
[00:19:18] Sharon Skinner: Or a whiteboard. I have a whiteboard,
[00:19:21] Christy Yaros: right, sticky notes on your wall.
[00:19:23] Christy Yaros: There’s so many ways, but you have to take that step back and see what do I actually have here? And maybe if you’ve been working with the book coach like us, if you’re familiar with Author Accelerator’s methods and you did that outline before you started writing and you kept it updated as you were writing, you would already have that part.
[00:19:44] Christy Yaros: Or if you at least kept, a running list of what each scene did as you were going, then you would, you could skip this part. But that’s really the first step is. Is getting an inventory of what is on the page.
[00:19:58] Sharon Skinner: And when you’re doing the inventory, what we’re talking about is also when you’re looking at that inventory, it’s not just, okay, what’s happening on the page and why does it matter in that scene? But then you’re gonna look for how it’s threaded together, how does it matter to the character and how does it create that strong character arc?
[00:20:19] Sharon Skinner: Much conflict is in there are, is there conflict and tension throughout the story? you’ll be able to see that in your inventory. You’ll be able to say, oh, they’re having a fight here. So there’s some conflict and it matters to the story because of this. So it’s not just a fight for a fight’s sake because just a fight is not conflict, story conflict. The fight needs to matter. You’re having an argument. It needs to matter to the characters and it needs to matter to the story. So you can find those threads that thread through, throughout the story and the places where it pulls to the top to the surface and make sure that the threads don’t get broken or that you know that it follows through.
[00:21:03] Sharon Skinner: That you don’t lose a subplot. Subplots are a thing that can be really hard for a lot of authors they can start a subplot and it can disappear. Or you’ll know if you’re starting in the wrong place. there are some really basic things that a lot of writers get wrong in the draft, and I shouldn’t say get wrong, but a lot of things that we do when we’re writing our way in or when we’re trying to tell the story, and a lot of it is stuff that we need to know as writers so that we know how to tell the rest of the story, but it’s not necessary for the reader to know it when we’ve written it down.
[00:21:42] Sharon Skinner: And it might need to be pulled out and put aside or re-thread it through the story, and you’ll be able to see that much more readily if you’ve done some kind of an I.
[00:21:54] Christy Yaros: Yes. And I know I get this argument, a lot, like, how can you tell just from looking at this list of my scenes what’s actually happening in my story? But you can, and it may take some practice for you to be able to do that for other people, but you absolutely can. And think of, you want your friends or your critique partners to read your whole manuscript.
[00:22:21] Christy Yaros: Like that’s a big ask and you only gonna get those fresh eyes like we’ve talked about it so many times. But if you can share that inventory, that outline and say, does this story makes sense to you? What do you see that, is missing? It’s a lot easier to look at 10 pages of outline versus, 350 pages of manuscript and also to keep yourself focused on those bigger picture things. and then as you’re, you say re-envisioning, you’re looking and seeing what is here and what is it that I want it to be. And you’re figuring that out before you go back in and do that because everything is connected, And if you make a random change here, you could be, it’s like that thread on your sweater like, let me pull that for you. And now you’ve unraveled the entire thing.
[00:23:18] Sharon Skinner: or you’ve added a bunch of things that in the wrong, you know, throughout the manuscript because you just keep making changes based on what you’re seeing on the page right now, and you end up with one of Christie’s favorite things, the Franken story.
[00:23:31] Christy Yaros: The Franken story, like going back to your subplot thing, right? Why? where did the subplot disappear? Oh, because I only added that information to make this thing make sense. But now if I zoom out and look at my story as a whole, I can see, you know what? First of all, I never picked that up again, and I don’t need to because here’s another way that I can weave this through that makes more sense for the story that I have on the page.
[00:23:59] Christy Yaros: that other thing, which is another topic for another day. But being complex without being complicated.
[00:24:06] Sharon Skinner: And I think it’s important to be able to say, okay, mindset being so critical to this process, I’m not revising. I’m re-envisioning what the story is and what it can be, versus, what it can be. And there are lots of ways to make a story, do what you want it to do, and work on the level that you want it to work.
[00:24:36] Sharon Skinner: Believe it or not, there’s more than one solution often, and to Christie’s point, sometimes the solution is not the right solution. There’s a solution, oh, I’ll fix this thing, being at a subplot, and then you find out later that no, that’s not the fix. there’s a better fix. So you wanna be looking for the better fixes that actually work in the manuscript and don’t send you off on these tangents and don’t take you off on these roads, untraveled un, unless that road is going to be something you’re gonna pull through the story and it makes sense. It works.
[00:25:12] Christy Yaros: and having even just a conversation with somebody else and anybody where you can talk out, okay, so I see that I have a plot hole. This doesn’t make sense. What if I do this? and looking at your scene list and saying, all right, if I change this and that’s gonna affect this over here, let me mark that down.
[00:25:35] Christy Yaros: This is gonna affect this, this is gonna affect that. And see, you know what? That’s just way too much to change. Or what if I change this? Okay, well then I just need to switch these two scenes around and that increases tension. And now make sure that the information is revealed in the right order. That just took an hour instead of six months of rewriting the pages only to realize that you haven’t made the issue better.
[00:26:05] Christy Yaros: You’ve just wasted six months of your time and still not really sure what it is that you’re trying to do.
[00:26:13] Sharon Skinner: And going back to mindset and that’s something that we see a lot people get in this mindset of, oh, but I’m done and I’m so close to done and I don’t wanna have to go back and re-envision the story cuz I’ve, I had a vision for the story to begin with, but again, what’s in your head and what’s on the page tends to be very different, especially early on.
[00:26:37] Sharon Skinner: And I don’t want people to walk away thinking that this is a huge, big process. It sounds so much bigger than it is because it’s a re-envisioning of the story. That doesn’t mean that you can’t stick with your original vision or that you’re not just tweaking that at the higher level to make it work, because that totally can be exactly what you’re doing.
[00:27:05] Sharon Skinner: It doesn’t have to feel like, oh, I have to rip up the entire foundation in order to move this wall, cuz you know when you do interior redesign, sometimes you can just move a wall.
[00:27:18] Christy Yaros: And at that point, if you can look at your story holistically and say, okay, I have stuck to my vision. This does make sense. everything is falling into place. Now. You have that opportunity to go deeper and add more layers and add threads and intertwine things and light your foreshadowing and your character development in a way that you couldn’t do before you knew all of these things. If you don’t really know where your character is going to end up, you might think this is where she’s gonna end up, but once you write the story, it could end up being something different. But once you’ve got that down, now you can go back in and, when we read something brilliant, we watch TV or a movie, and we’re like, oh, they’re so smart.
[00:28:02] Christy Yaros: How did they do that as though it magically came out of them like that. It may have, but it probably did not. That was probably intentional. We have to have that intentionality when we’re revising and re-envisioning and going through our story because it’s whatever we want it to be. And nobody is ever gonna know what you initially, what you’re initially thought it was gonna be, and how close it matches what your original thought was.
[00:28:31] Christy Yaros: They’re just gonna see what they have in front of them. They don’t have all of those artifacts in their mind of previous versions like you do, where you can say, oh, but I had this great scene and now I can’t keep that in the story.
[00:28:45] Christy Yaros: And being able to have that in service of your story instead of your own ego, like, this is what’s best for my story and therefore this is what I need to do.
[00:28:58] Sharon Skinner: and sometimes you just need to put those, pull those scenes out, or there’s great lines or those things that you just, oh, it’s so. Just wrote this glorious little paragraph. sometimes you need to pull those out if, and here’s a trick. Speaking of mindset, here’s a trick that worked for me early on.
[00:29:15] Sharon Skinner: Very well. Make a folder to put those in. You can make yourself a little folder and say, oh, I’m just gonna keep all of these, cuz who knows? They might. They might come in handy later. I might really wanna use them later. And I’ll be honest with you, I did that for my first couple of books and I used almost none of it ever.
[00:29:38] Sharon Skinner: And I finally just quit doing that. But it helps with the mindset to know that I’m not tossing those words out. Now when I say tossing those words out. Remember, nothing written is ever wasted because you’re honing your craft with every word you write, with every sentence, with every paragraph. Every time you create a new simile or a metaphor or whatever it is you’re doing, you are honing your craft.
[00:30:04] Sharon Skinner: So no word that you write is ever wasted. But some of them are just not as glorious as we think they are, even though they feel like it at the time and they just don’t, or they just don’t belong in that particular story, in that moment. So if you’re having trouble cutting those out, make a folder, put ’em in there, revisit ’em later.
[00:30:24] Sharon Skinner: Maybe you can use them, maybe not, but at least you know that you haven’t. Just toss them out into the ether, never to be seen.
[00:30:34] Christy Yaros: And how many times do you, have you actually gone back to those folders and pulled something that you discarded because you absolutely had to have it back later? And how much of it you probably could have just deleted and not put it in a separate folder?
[00:30:48] Sharon Skinner: Pretty much, 99% of it could have been deleted and, never have been put in a separate folder. I don’t do it anymore. That was the first couple of books I wrote where I really felt like, oh, I, but this is such a good little scene, I just, I hate to throw it away. So I would put it in a folder and I’ve revisited it, and what really, I don’t, haven’t really, I don’t know that I’ve re actually repurposed or used any of it, but it has informed me in some ways where I’ll go back and read that and it might spark something for another scene, or it might spark something in my brain for another story completely.
[00:31:27] Sharon Skinner: But for the most part, it’s just words on a page. It didn’t fit in the story I was trying to tell.
[00:31:33] Christy Yaros: I just wanted to touch on the difference between revising and editing, because I think we alluded to some of that earlier, but that is maybe semantics, but editing to me is the polishing part, the line editing where I’m actually fixing the sentences on the page where you’re doing your copy editing your proofreading, and that just really can’t come until after you have done the big picture things.
[00:32:07] Christy Yaros: And like we had said earlier, the editing is more the habit that we fall into when we think that we’re revising. And so being conscious of, what things you do at the beginning versus what things you do at the end
[00:32:23] Sharon Skinner: to your point, when we are editing, we are tweaking and we are cleaning up and we are polishing. I think this whole conversation that we’ve been having today has made me really look at the idea that revisioning is this pulling it apart and looking at the big picture stuff and figuring out what needs to be done.
[00:32:44] Sharon Skinner: The revising part is actually implementing what you’re doing for that revision. So I think they go very hand in hand. And then once you’re done with that piece of it, then you can get into actually editing, line editing and worrying about, am I using the right words? How many placeholders did I put in here?
[00:33:07] Sharon Skinner: I have a tendency to place hold, the act of walking with the word walk and then going in later and finding all the instances where I have my characters walking and nuancing it to the proper word of crept. Ran, jogged, snuck. Whatever it is. But that all is editing, that is that lower level, polishing it up, making it really sing editorial stuff.
[00:33:39] Sharon Skinner: I’m not looking at that when I’m first writing it to get the big picture. sometimes now that I’ve been, I’ve, I have nine novels out, so now a lot of that creeps in and nicely just happens, where I know that the, how the characters are behaving. But there are still places where I’m just writing really fast and furious and I just use words like walk and look and all of those placeholders that you do just to get the scene out, just to get that lump of clay on the table
[00:34:09] Christy Yaros: I think we take for granted when we think we can remember things later. So there’s a lot that’s gonna be deleted cuz you need to get it down because that myth of, I’ll remember, let’s face it, it doesn’t work in writing. It doesn’t work in real life.
[00:34:23] Sharon Skinner: Too much information coming at us all the time to remember all the things that
[00:34:30] Sharon Skinner: we were intending to do.
[00:34:31] Christy Yaros: which, also why making that plan for your revision while you’re doing your re-envisioning part on that outline, on that list, that spreadsheet, whatever you have before you go in, reminds you when you actually go into a scene. This is what I intended to do when I came in here, rather than going chronologically through the pages where you’re like, ah, I
[00:34:55] Christy Yaros: had this brilliant idea that
[00:34:56] Sharon Skinner: or what am I gonna do with this scene? Now I just read the other scene and I did some cleanup on that. So what am I gonna do with this scene now? But, What you’re doing then is you’re isolating those scenes from the bigger story and you’re fixing scenes level stuff, or you’re fixing line level stuff.
[00:35:13] Sharon Skinner: Again, you’re at that level where you’re not fixing the big bits that, the plot holes and the lack of character arc and the maybe the structure is off or what have you.
[00:35:27] Christy Yaros: And an agent or an editor isn’t going to say no because a couple of your turns of phrase aren’t beautiful. They are going to say no if you don’t have a story, if your arc isn’t there, if your plot doesn’t make sense, if there’s no stakes, if there’s no tension, all of those things that are really are big picture things, but also, Fixing those things fixes a lot of the other things that you think you need to fix in the beginning.
[00:35:57] Christy Yaros: You might not need to fix so much of the lesser things once you fix the bigger things, if that makes sense.
[00:36:04] Sharon Skinner: yeah, because ultimately they’re going to have someone do copy edits on it, right? Your publisher is going to have somebody looking at it as well. You’ll have more eyes on it at that level. For those, that final editorial process for cleanup, then you’ll have on it while you’re developing it and working on it yourself.
[00:36:25] Sharon Skinner: So when we say, we hear all the time, it has to be the most perfect. It has to be the most, yeah. But we’re really not talking about a comma out of place. We’re talking about good, solid writing. Yes. You need to have good, solid writing. It has to make sense, it has to be clear. But what we’re really talking about is telling a compelling story with captivating characters that is meaningful to the reader.
[00:36:51] Christy Yaros: And on perfectionism, I am a recovering perfectionist. I get it. I really, really truly do. I have many years of therapy under my belt to tell you if you have not gotten there yet, there is no such thing anywhere in any part of our lives. It is a myth, and I used to wear this badge of perfectionism, like it was meant that I was better than other people.
[00:37:18] Christy Yaros: Especially being a proofreader and a copy editor. I’m a perfectionist. I will find every e every error, you’re not, I’m sorry, but you’re not, it’s not gonna happen. Somebody else will pick that up and find something else, but. That keeping ourselves back from being daring and taking chances in our stories because we’re so worried about this perfect. That what is that? Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good, and don’t let perfect be the enemy of your progress. Because it constantly focusing so zoomed in on the literal words, on the page over and over, and not allowing yourself that space to zoom back and try something that might not work, but might be the best thing that ever happened to your story.
[00:38:05] Christy Yaros: it takes a lot of bravery and it takes a lot of putting aside just the way that our society and our culture have put this perfectionist, burden on all of.
[00:38:18] Christy Yaros: I agree. I agree. So, wow. What else do we want to say about this topic before we get to the end? I could talk about this all day because it is just, I just see this part as the part that trips writers up the most, skipping this part and having in their minds done all of this revision when they’ve never thought of the actual big picture questions. it derails you and it disheartens you.
[00:38:51] Christy Yaros: And you could get stuck in that cycle for many years. and our publishing world doesn’t necessarily help with that. Conferences that we go to, especially our KidLit things, we’re always looking for that critique. That meeting with an editor or an agent where they’re looking at our first five pages, and so we’ll do those over and over and over and over again, and then we’ll go query and we get requests for fulls, but nobody wants the full because we spent so much time perfecting that beginning and that query letter that when the story falls apart at the end, we didn’t even see it coming because we never looked at the whole, I’ve met writers who have not even read their entire manuscript from beginning to end, and they’ve just spent so much time on that beginning that they forget about the end.
[00:39:46] Christy Yaros: So just, I know that this is a hard thing to think about and it’s hard to feel like you’re not making progress because you’re not in the pages doing what you think is the actual work but this re-envisioning part that is the actual work.
[00:40:07] Sharon Skinner: I agree. And the other thing that you had talked about earlier and that we hit on was having that inventory of the needs of the manuscript. it’s like doing a strengths and weaknesses Assessment of something. Again, it’s a different mindset.
[00:40:23] Sharon Skinner: You’ve gotta put a different hat on. It’s not your creator hat at that point. It’s your analytical. What would an editor or an agent think about this? You’ve gotta put that hat on. That’s when your internal editor gets to come out and say, yeah, there’s, this character’s not working for me. I don’t know why.
[00:40:45] Sharon Skinner: you wanna keep that part of your brain shut up while you’re drafting and while you’re creating, but at this point, when you’re doing the inventory, you’re doing the analysis. That’s when you wanna let that one come out and just re really get after it and find all those problems that you can then put your creator hat back on to find the solutions for. And the same thing. If you get an editorial letter from somebody or you get feedback from somebody and they’re like, I didn’t like the way this character developed and I had a problem connecting with them, then you can go back and put on your creator hat and say, okay, there’s a problem here.
[00:41:24] Sharon Skinner: Let me see. Let me do an assessment and see if I can figure out what that reader is talking about and how I can fix it. Now you get to create again, I mean, re-envisioning revisioning is the act of going in and recreating the story in a new way so that it’s even better.
[00:41:45] Christy Yaros: So what would you like your action item to be today? Sharon.
[00:41:51] Sharon Skinner: So I would like to suggest that I have a worksheet that I’ve massaged and developed off of something that we learned during our credentialing process, which is a list of some of the really big key errors or problems that writers write into their manuscripts with some potential solutions. This is very generic and very general.
[00:42:20] Sharon Skinner: It’s very broad, but it talks about things like starting too soon or starting too late and that sort of thing. I’m gonna link that in the show notes, and I recommend that you grab that and have that, take a look at it and review it and have it near you when you are doing your assessment so that you’re looking for those big problems and then also when you’re looking for solutions to those problem.
[00:42:47] Christy Yaros: I love that cuz you’d be surprised after working with so many writers, there’s so many things that we all do and that we all do wrong. You know that the patterns are there and once you can recognize them and keep yourself from doing them, I think that’s really helpful. So I guess maybe I should have gone first because my action item comes before yours because then before you can assess, you need to analyze and see what you’ve got there.
[00:43:13] Christy Yaros: And, as you all should know by this point, I’m a huge nerd and I love my spreadsheets. and so of course I have a spreadsheet that I use. And you can do this however you want if this does not work for your brain, like do not feel bad. Tools are tools. Everything works differently for everybody.
[00:43:34] Christy Yaros: But, I have a spreadsheet that I will link also in the show notes that is a Google, spreadsheet that you can download where you can start to keep inventory of your scenes, whether you’re still drafting or whether you’re at that point where you’re read to look at your draft as a whole. some things that I think that you should at the least put down when you’re doing that.
[00:43:58] Christy Yaros: And I like spreadsheets, like I said, because I like to be able to sort and filter and color code and all of that. And it’s also just a completely different, it helps me to get out of that mindset. When we’re drafting, we’re in word, we’re looking at all of this stuff here, it’s you’re forcing yourself to look at something completely differently so that your brain can’t even, can’t even try and do the things that you’re trying to get it not to do.
[00:44:20] Sharon Skinner: It forces the other side of the brain to work. Oh, maybe that’s why I don’t like them. Maybe that side of my brain is lazy. I don’t know.
[00:44:27] Christy Yaros: Listen, I have a few clients that swore they would never touch the spreadsheet, and they are converts. So
[00:44:38] Sharon Skinner: You never know. Different tools for different things, for different people, and it, I, it’s just like process. I say it all the time. Process is personal. If you haven’t tried someone else’s process, sure. Try it on, see if it works. Well, same thing with tools. If there’s a tool that you’re thinking, oh, I don’t know, I don’t think that’s gonna work for me, give it a shot.
[00:45:00] Sharon Skinner: You never know. It might just be the thing that you needed all along. It could. It could happen.
[00:45:06] Christy Yaros: It could, it also could be a rabbit hole that leads you to a lot of procrastination. So do not try out tools just to keep yourself from doing the work.
[00:45:16] Sharon Skinner: not one tool after another.
[00:45:18] Sharon Skinner:
[00:45:18] Christy Yaros: not saying I do that. I totally do that. So don’t do it. Well, Sharon, thank you so much for this conversation about revision and like I said, I think that this is something we could absolutely talk about all the time and we do, because one of the benefits of working with an author accelerator coach is that we all do talk to each other.
[00:45:38] Christy Yaros: And so when we recommend these tools, not only have we seen them work with our own clients, but we work with people who have seen it work with their clients. And so we’re constantly re-envisioning our processes for ourselves and to better help you.
[00:45:53] Sharon Skinner: that’s absolutely a perfect way to end this discussion. Thank you, Christie, for hanging out. You know how much I love talking all things, writing, craft, and books, so I appreciate our time together. But more to the point, we appreciate our listeners spending the time to listen to us. So thank you all for coming and listening to us again at this podcast. Don’t forget. We’re out in the world. We’re doing all the things. So if you need a book coach, check us out
[00:46:24] Christy Yaros: And come back next month and listen to us again because we love to have you. So thank you.
[00:46:33] Sharon Skinner: And bye for now.
[00:46:34] Christy Yaros: Bye.
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