Friday, February 27

At-Home Workshop: Revise Your Novel in 31 Days

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to the home page for the Month-Long At-Home Revision Workshop. If this is the first you're hearing about this workshop, then read on and see if you'd like to join in (starting late is no problem at all, it's a work-at-your-own-pace kind of deal). The more the merrier! 

Workshop Prep:
Prepping for the Workshop: What to do to get ready.
Workshop Prep: Create an Editorial Map
Workshop Prep: Create a Revision Plan

Revision Steps By Day (Updated as each step goes live)
Day One: Analyze the Story Structure
Day Two: Analyze the Character Arcs
Day Three: Analyze the Scene Structure
Day Four: Clarify the Goals and Motivations
Day Five: Clarify the Conflict and Tension
Day Six: Clarify the Stakes and Consequences
Day Seven: Focus the Narrative Drive
Day Eight: Flesh Out the Character Development
Day Nine: Tighten the Character Descriptions
Day Ten: Balance the Backstory
Day Eleven: Focus the Point of View
Day Twelve: Clarify the Theme 
Day Thirteen: Deepen the World Building and Setting
Day Fourteen: Eliminate Unnecessary Infodumps
Day Fifteen: Clean Up the Description and Stage Direction
Day Sixteen: Clarify the Tone and Mood
Day Seventeen: Strengthen the Foreshadowing and Reveals
Day Eighteen: Eliminate Unnecessary Told Prose
Day Nineteen: Check the Narrative Focus
Day Twenty: Streamline the Dialog
Day Twenty-One: Streamline the Internalization
Day Twenty-Two: Sharpen the Hooks and Tighten the Pacing
Day Twenty-Three: Smooth Any Rough Transitions
Day Twenty-Four: Revise Any Unnecessary Passive Voice
Day Twenty-Five: Eliminate Clichés and Trim Overwriting
Day Twenty-Six: Clarify Ambiguous Pronouns
Day Twenty-Seven: Strengthen or Eliminate Any Weak Words
Day Twenty-Eight: Revise Any Misused Words and Awkward Phrasing
Day Twenty-Nine: Eliminate Unnecessary Repetition
Day Thirty: Fix Any Grammatical Errors
Day Thirty-One: Do a Final Read Through

How This Works


Every day in March has one step to revising a novel. Each step focuses on an aspect of the process, and provides tasks for writers to complete. The plan is to do one step a day, but we all know revisions have a mind of their own and don’t always stick to a schedule, so don’t worry if some steps require more time than others. Depending on the novel and the writer, some steps will be easy and there won’t be much to do, while others will take longer than a single day.

This might be a 31-day program, but take as much time as you need to revise your novel and don’t feel pressured to keep up if that will hurt the quality of your writing. These steps are intended to guide you if you’re not sure where to start, motivate you on those days when writing is tough, and encourage you to keep writing by breaking the process into manageable pieces. It’ll still be on the site when you’re ready to move on to the next step, even if that’s months from now.


What You’ll Need


This workshop is aimed at novels that are in the later drafts stages, so the focus is more on tightening the plot and polishing the text. If you still have major plot holes to fill, research to do, or scenes to finish, I recommend getting it done before starting this workshop. The more you still need to figure out, the longer the process will likely take (which is fine if your goal here isn’t to get your revision done in 31 days). It’s okay if there are weak areas and the text itself is still rough, but aim for at least a solid first draft.

A Peek at the Process


We’ll be approaching this from the top down, working on macro issues first, then narrowing the tasks down every week to micro polishing issues. We’ll get our stories working, then our plots and characters, then move on to getting the scenes solid, and finally polish the text. (Because there’s no sense polishing the text if we haven’t worked out any plot problems yet) Each week will scale down another level. If you need two (or more) weeks to finish a level, take the time and move on when ready. This is about motivation, not heaping more stress on you.

The Revision Workshop and Guest Authors


Just because March will have this special revision focus doesn’t mean it’ll be all edits all the time. I’ll still be running my usual guest authors and indie author columns, so you’ll get double the fun (and articles) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The revisions start March 1. Who’s with me?


Looking for tips on revising your novel? Check out my book Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft, a series of self-guided workshops that help you revise your manuscript into a finished novel. Still working on your idea? Then try my just-released Planning Your Novel Workbook

A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The Shifter, was chosen for the 2014 list of "Ten Books All Young Georgians Should Read" from the Georgia Center for the Book. It was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, and The Truman Award in 2011.

Janice is also the founder of Fiction University, a site dedicated to helping writers improve their craft. Her popular Foundations of Fiction series includes Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a self-guided workshop for planning or revising a novel, the companion Planning Your Novel Workbook, Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft, and the upcoming Understanding Show Don't Tell (And Really Getting It).  

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86 comments:

  1. Me! Me! (I'm waving my imaginary hands like a mad woman here). I've been procrastinating on this task for months. Thanks so much for the kick-in-the-rear.

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    1. This is me. A madwoman whose been avoiding her manuscripts. Also waving imaginary hands.

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  2. This sounds awesome! Looks like I've got some work to do before March.

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  3. Perfect timing. I am finishing up a novel I will need to revise - that will give me a few weeks to step away before revising. Count me in.

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  4. Great timing! I've been editing and editing and feel like I'm not making much difference.

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  5. This might actually motivate me to dust off my own dusty NaNo novel and do something with it. Right now I'm working on short flash fiction to firm up my skills :) Hopefully I'll be ready by March :)

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  6. Absolutely perfect (as always Janice)! Am ready to revise my MG historical fiction as we speak. Count me in!

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  7. I'm in! Sounds great, Janice! THANK YOU! Mine will be ready to go.

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  8. I was just thinking today that I need to get going on the revision to my novel so this is perfect. I'm definitely in, I can't wait! :)

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  9. Funny how the universe works. This is exactly what I need. I'm in!

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  10. I'm bookmarking this post. I have a MS that I would like to start revising soon and this sounds like it would be awesome to do. Thank you!

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  11. Awesome! I knew I wasn't alone in this :) We're going to have a great time.

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  12. Absolutely! Am finishing two books right now. Timing could not be better!

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  13. Great timing! Yes, I'm in.

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  14. What a great idea! Looking forward to March. Off to fill in those plot holes!

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  15. I'm in this going to be great!! Thanks janice😍

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  16. Love this. Thank you!

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  17. I'm in. Terrific opportunity. Thank YOU Janice.

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  18. I'm thrilled by this! Can't wait to jump in and this pushes me to revise a little now. I have fallen off the writing wagon but am feeling the need to get back to it. I have 2 novels that "just" need revisions but I keep putting that off since I haven't really been sure how to approach it (despite reading tons of tips on editing).

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  19. This sounds great. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with others to get through my revisions. Thanks.

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  20. I'm SOOO in! What a great (and fun!) idea. I'll spread the word :)

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  21. So glad I found YOU - LOVE my daily writing technique search. Count me in and Thanks.

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  22. I think this is a great idea and I'm definitely with you. Is there any way we could be prompted to check each day?

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    1. If you subscribe to the site it'll be emailed to you daily.

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  23. I'm in. Now, if I can figure out how to follow the daily tips. That's where it always seems to go wrong for me.

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    1. You might try doing it in chunks of five or ten chapters. That would make it a little easier to do everything in one revision session, and by the end of the month you'll have a good idea of what works best for you. Then you can apply it to the rest of the manuscript.

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    2. That's a good idea. I have a ms to revise, but it still has some holes. This will be a way I can follow along without getting overwhelmed. Can't wait!

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  24. Thank you thank you thank! You are a mind reader. It's the kick in the butt I needed.

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  25. Sounds great! My NaNo novel is still not finished so I feel like I will turn February into NaNo part 2, finish it off, and join you in March!

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  26. Sounds brilliant. I'll be there (here).

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  27. Denise McInerneyFeb 4, 2015, 11:54:00 AM

    Exactly what I need right now! I'll be here for sure. Thank you for doing this!

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  28. I have been STRUGGLING with revision for a variety of factors. I love this idea! Thanks.

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  29. This sounds like a wonderful idea, especially with the daily advice and tasks! I'm definitely in--thanks!

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  30. Sounds gret! I'm in for the process, and perfect timing too; I'm in revisions! Thank you! =)

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  31. This couldn't possibly be more perfect timing. I'm about 2/3 of the way through my current WIP and I have a first draft that's been out with beta readers for two months. I think I might try revising BOTH novels at the same time. 'Cos who needs sleep, right? ;)

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    1. LOL sleep is for the weak! I have two manuscripts to revise myself, and I was wondering how much I could do on both. I might try to do the first week or so for both. All the planning sessions.

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  32. I've been sitting on my novel for too long, waiting for the right time to revise. This will be the kick I need. Thank you!

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  33. I sure hope to join in the revision fun. Thanks!

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  34. I'm ready - need all the help I can get - Sandy Robinson

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  35. I'll give it a try. I'm revising right now, probably will take more than a month... I would love the guidance as I go.

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    1. Take as much time as you need :) This is all about motivation and guidance, so follow at your own pace.

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  36. I'm definitely in. I'm working on a restructuring draft of my story now.

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  37. I'm in! I am constantly bookmarking your site for reference as I write so really looking forward to this! Shannon

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  38. I've just started following your blog. You can bet I'll be following along during March as well. Thank-you!

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  39. Count me in..perfect timing...I'm snowed in and ready to go. Thanks

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  40. Very cool; my draft won't be ready but I'll be paying attention to the posts.

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    1. You can always do them when you're ready. I'll have the entire month linked in this post by the end, so it'll be easy to find.

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  41. I am excited! I just finished my first draft and felt overwhelmed when it comes to editing. I guess I'm a better student than teacher, because I love it when someone walks me through the process. Thanks!

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    1. Editing is an overwhelming process sometimes. So many moving parts and things to think about. That's why I have so many lists and guides to help me keep track, and why I'm putting it all together here :)

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  42. This is perfect timing! Thank you very much for a wonderful site filled with an enormous amount of tips and tricks.

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  43. Just finished my editorial map and looking forward to the external motivation to get this pesky manuscript finished!

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  44. This sounds amazing and exactly what I need. I'm in!

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  45. Hi,
    I'm in. I am starting today.
    Ciao,
    Pat

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  46. Hmm don't think that post went through. Let's try again. What perfect timing. I've been working to develop and editing plan for my draft seven so this couldn't have come at a better time. I'm all over this.

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  47. I wish you all could have seen Janice in February. She wanted nothing more than to dig into her current WIP every day but instead she focused on finding a way to share what works for her so she could go through it with you all at the same time. I thought she was going to go crazy not being able to just start revising!

    There's really no way to overstate how much happiness she gets from knowing she is helping out. Your comments on the steps as we go through really make her day.

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  48. I am a few weeks away from completing my first draft, so I really appreciate having these guides?lessons? let's say mentoring sessions available for me when I begin the heavy lifting of revising.

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  49. I'm in - a little late seeing this but ready to play catch-up.

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  50. Eleven days in and it's already a fantastic reference! Can't believe there's another 20 days to go :)

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  51. I'm in late but catching up. Marvelous help. Thank you so much!!

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  52. Getting in very late, but I'll just finish late. Fantastic advice and structure for editing. Thank you very much.

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  53. I'm a little late finding this gem. All I can say is WOW WOW WOW. Been looking for a detailed process and now I have one. I also use it to organize my saved articles and books under the step where I will need them.

    You are the absolute greatest, Janice!!

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    1. Thanks! Better late than never :) The book version of this (same idea, but MUCH MUCH bigger and more info) is coming out in September.

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    2. I wish I knew about this sooner. I have two maybe three nano novels I never even looked at after writing. Well, I take that back. I started on one and don't know if I even got a page done. Maybe I can use this workshop to at least get started.

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    3. Better late than never! The book based on this workshop is out now (just an FYI), if you find you need more direction or suggestions/guides on how to address problems later. Good luck with those revisions!

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  54. Hi, I'm planning to do this but I'm just wondering, how long did it take to complete every day? I will bedding school besides this so I'm wondering if I will be able to complete this in just 30 days or that I need to keep in mind that it will take me more time.

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    1. It all depends on the manuscript, how much time you have, and how much you need/want to do. For most people, some of the tasks are done quickly and you can do a few days in one session, and other days take more time.

      For example, if your draft is fairly clean and it's more polish and tightening, you can probably get through it in 30 days without much trouble. But if it's a rough first draft and needs a lot of rewriting and editing, odds are you'll need more time.

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