Your rough draft is done. Congrats. Bells. Whistles. And so what? That's nothing. It's only a pile of horse apples. Face it. Face facts. Face reality. That stinking, smelly thing goes no where, but know that hidden within are the jewels that make it special. If you have trouble finding them, put it aside for a bit before you return. Let the critic go when you come back. The critic deserves no seat at the table or a view of your laptop.
Bring new revisionist eyes and your tool box. Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and dig deep. You'll find the jewels. You're expand them, set them up early, and let them linger as the pages pass by. Yes, you need to do the grammar stuff, but right now? It's all about your story and how effectively you've told it.
The single most important revision question you pull from your tool box will be your jewel cutter tools. And the main one is, "How does this scene relate to my story?" If it doesn't--yank it, no matter how beautiful or intriguing. You HAVE to pull it. (You might find a few cases where you can rewrite it later, so never delete forever, but remember that if it doesn't belong, it's ineffective.) My rule of thumb is that every scene must advance three aspects of the main plot. It might be driving forward the plot, revealing a character's motivation or soul, or firmly tying a subplot to the main plot, or shining light on the main plot line from another perspective. The three aspects don't have to be world moving stuff. It might simply add tension to ramp up the story: a character argues with another, or has a romantic interlude, or confronts something frightening from their past.
There can be a hundred reasons to include a scene, but you NEED three reasons to prove that its earned its place. Anything less, and you're lacking the depth and richness you need to expect from your storytelling. Think of this as the bulky hammer that cracks the diamond into pieces, or finds the marble figure outlines beneath the solid block. (I love the imagery of this 3D aspect. Your manuscript needs the 3D of a fine sculpture to be good.)
Like all good Single Most Important Questions, it has layers. You now pull out your finer tools. "How does this sentence relate to my story?" Is it an effective sentence? Does it do what it needs to do? Also, it has to be clearly communicated to readers; if readers can't understand it, you failed. Use your smaller chisel to make that sentence a beautiful arm or leg, a curved buttock. Well, you get my drift.
Then you reach for your finest files from your tool box. Here, you borrow from the poet. "Is this the right word for this sentence and this scene." And yes, by now you've gotten it in grammar-okay shape by this point, but that isn't your goal. The storytelling is the goal!
Parelli is a famous horse/rider trainer. He says, "You have to slow down to speed up." Manuscripts are like horses. Rough drafts are no different; dig deep to speed up the main plot story telling.
(Sorry for the rough draft on this blog post, but I need to be working my rough draft for Book II of the The Kami Files, tentatively entitled, TET Theory.)
- May - 2016: Upcoming, I'll be participating in Desert Sleuth's Donald Maass Workshop. I'm afraid it sold out months ago, but if you have questions, contact me.Apr - 2016: A 2nd Kami Short will release in the Malice Domestic anthology in Bethesda MD. I'll also be moderating a panel with authors Karen Pullen, Sue Cox, and Gretchen Archer. Don't miss the fun! I'll have special edition signed copies of the 1st Kami Short from the SinC - Desert Sleuth anthology to hand out for free.Apr - 2016: An adult short story, Big Horn Mountain Carnivores, was selected as the adult category winner in the Tempe Community Writing Contest loosely associated with Arizona State University! The e- & print release where I read a portion of the story was the greatest fun. Thank you everyone who came by! Free download here (scroll to bottom):Aug - 2015: Politics of Chaos was released at an event attended by the awesome NYTimes best-selling author Sara Paretsky! Also, a flash fiction entitled, "Lightning" was 3rd runner up in the national 2015 Writers Police Academy's contest.
July - 2015: NYC FBI headquarters. Many thrilling authors were there, the presentations were fantastic, and the experience was a solid 15 on a 10 point scale. Thank you to the International Thriller Writers for inviting me. Thank you to the men and women of the FBI.
MAY - 2015: The Poisoned Pen submitted Chaos Theory for the 2015 Edgar's young adult novel award. Please note that submission is NOT a nomination. Still, it is an exciting development.
MAR - 2015:Tucson Festival of Books booksigning! Great time by all.
FEB - 2015: CHAOS THEORY, released by The Poisoned Pencil, an imprint of The Poisoned Pen Press - one of the nation's largest publishers of hard-back mysteries.
MAR - 2013: Meg was honored to receive a year long mentorship from author Jan Blazanin through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Iowa. Ms. Blazanin praised Meg's multiple characters' distinct and age appropriate voices.
Her writing blog is located at megevonne.blogspot.com contains reviews and writing craft tools.