As I’m getting closer to the end of the semester, my mentor and I have decided to start reviewing all of my pieces in order to choose which two I’m going to use in my final project. As a result, for the past week, I’ve been doing lots of rewriting. The goal right now is to work on the changes my mentor gave me for each literary sketch, and after we’ve reviewed those, we’ll pick my final two to fine tune. This leads me to my topic for today: nothing but revisions!
Seeing as how each of my short pieces are completely different (more or less), one of the things I’ve been trying to figure out is how to revise them all so that they all stand at the same level of quality. While I would typically go straight to one of my usual sources (Nathan Bransford) to answer this question, this time, I decided to come up with my own revision checklist:
1. Look for a great density of material in the first paragraph, or at least the first page. It’s important to set the scene (main character, setting, tone) right away.
2. Use specificity and details, especially if you want to connect them to a metaphor (or an event later on in a larger piece)
3. Either bring up or allude to the characters’ background or history to help explain their actions and motives in the current situation
4. Even in a short piece, consider the transitions in a scene, how the situation might change (e.g. a twist to the story, a revelation, a changed desire, things gone wrong)
5. If your dialogue sounds stiff and formal, try reading it aloud to see where you can make it sound more casual and modern
6. Re-articulate the points in the story that could use more impact
7. Make sure your title isn’t obvious and doesn’t give away too much
What else do you look for when revising your writing?