Geek Girl Learns…

…From James Scott Bell’s Revision & Self-Editing

Catch up post #2 (originally scheduled for March)

I will admit, my lovely readers, that I am more than a bit in love with James Scott Bell’s writing style and technique. I’ve read, and will review in one of the catch up posts, his Plot & Structure, but since this month I will be teaching a class on “What to Leave on the Cutting Room Floor”, I thought I’d review some of my editing books. So, to start off with the best:

Tiny Tina the baby dragon want’s you do edit better!

The Good

James Scott Bell knows writers. He knows their hopes, their fears, and what it means to sit down to a blank page every. single. day. He also knows the temptation to sit and read writing books (or write blog posts!) rather than work on the story that only will be perfect in your head.

With that in mind, he takes us gently, lovingly, step by step, in a labor of love, through our work, pointing out over uses of adverbs and clichés (ha! notice what I did there?), reminding us to concentrate on POV and character rather than author inserts, etc., etc.

And it works. I’ve never been more inspired to revise my novel than after I’ve read a chapter of this book. Some of the bits I will use for planning, but most work for after the 100 headed hydra is already on my desktop.

The Better

Bell makes it easy to see where you are in a chapter and where you need to go, with key points bulleted and asides set off in dark text. He also tells us the rules, and then when we can break them. I love breaking rules!

All of his chapters are little nuggets of just the essential information, with small exercises to practice before we jump in to our huge novels. The chapter on plot does echo a lot of the things in his Plot & Structure, but he only summarizes for jut a tidbit and then he’s off covering new material.

The Best

Gentlebeings, this is why you should buy this book. After twelve chapters on how to revise different aspects of your work, he give us three chapters just on how to approach it emotionally. And how to use the resources you already have to make your revising better.

And then he gives us The Ultimate Revision Checklist.

This checklist takes up a good 15% of the book. A quick guide to everything we need to know, summarized and bullet pointed and charted for us to see, immediately, what we still need to work on.

That’s a lotta checklist!

The Verdict

I will be keeping this book. And reading it over and over and over again.

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