Let’s just not talk about how I haven’t blogged lately. You and I both know only two people care, anyway. And you are NOT one of those individuals.

Let’s talk about the new adventure keeping me busy: REVISION

(Look! I’ve included random John Williams movie theme awesomeness to inspire your revisions!)

As I write this, I am slashing my way through the deep, dark jungles of revision for my agent, searching for the lost Tiki of backstory & characterization. When I finally lay hands on this ruby eyed idol, I’ll be one step closer to submitting my project.

How to get through this jungle full of Indiana Jones sized pitfalls? I definitely have strategies for coping. Here are my three tips for survival.

1.) Embrace criticism. Exploit it for all it’s worth.

The revision process is a great opportunity to grow and develop as a writer, so when your beta readers, your friends, and even your agent share feedback, really listen with an open mind. Yes, I’m talking to you, the tortured misunderstood artist. In my experience, the person giving feedback is right more often than not.

Neil Gaiman on critique:

“…when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

Bottom line: Listen, then fix it already!

2. ) Don’t just write during revisions…read, too!

If something is not working, stepping away from your work and immersing yourself in something else might be helpful. When I struggle, I always pull up a pile of great novels and read excerpts with a critical eye. I notice the different styles and elements which make the stories work. I analyze the mix of narrative vs. dialogue, description vs. action, etc.

While I would never try to imitate any other writer’s voice, I think it helps to admire the artistry of good craft. If I read good stuff, it helps me write my own good stuff.

Honestly, show me a terrible writer and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t read.

2.) Write yourself a revision letter.

Tell yourself what you’d like to see in a new draft. Lay it all out there and take yourself to task. Make specific suggestions to your writer self. Then take your own advice and whip your WIP into shape!

3.) Take your time and be strategic.

I go over my manuscript many, many times, focusing on different issues each time. One pass for the protagonist’s voice, one pass for general world-building issues, etc.

And don’t forget what my friend Rosemary Clement Moore says, do overs are allowed!

Hungry for more?

If you are busy poking around on your revisions and pouring your heart into making it better, you might enjoy this recipe for Chocolate Caramel Poke and Pour Cake.


  1. Jemi Fraser says:

    Love, love, LOVE that video – awesome 🙂

    Great advice! I think it’s so important to read when revising – keeps your mind mobile… or maybe that’s just me 🙂

    I like to revise for one thing at a time as well. Thanks for all the hing Jenny!

  2. Ann Marie says:

    I love the advice to write yourself a revision letter. After the draft and before starting the first revision, I wrote a query letter and synopsis. It turned out to be a great reminder/focusing exercise after the long time spent on the draft to remember what my novel was (supposed to be) about.

  3. jmartinlibrary says:

    Jemi: Mobile minds, that’s what I need!

    Ann Marie: That’s great idea!

  4. catwoods says:


    Thanks for the great reminder. It is essential for us to pay close attention to feedback. Even a teeny, tiny, minor tweak can strengthen our manuscript tremendously.

    And I’m not opposed to bad feedback either. Because it’s still someone’s opinion and it lets me know there is more than one way to look at a story. Even if I don’t use the feedback to make a change, at least I considered where the critiquer was coming from and how I could change my manuscript if I wanted a different outcome.

    As always, I gain weight just reading your recipes.

    Best luck on the rewrites.

  5. jmartinlibrary says:


    You’re right about feedback. One of my most trusted mentors has said many times that knowing how to filter critique is a critical skill. Most writers fall at two extremes, they either listen to everything, or they listen to nothing. The trick seems to be in taking in the good and ignoring the bad.

  6. Paigham Afaqui says:

    In the process of writing fiction words, including what is described in words like actions, descriptions, characters – should be like dry pieces of wood – if the burn and turn into ashes while fuelling the fire it is OK, otherwise nothing justifies it. Critiques can never tell you what will work and what will not. Thus if you feel the heat in your writing it is OK. Whatever does not vanish with getting burnt in the furnace of plot should be deleted. Best of luck !

  7. Gail Shepherd says:

    The revision letter is a brilliant idea. And definitely, writing a practice query letter got me focused in a way no other exercise had done. There’s something about having to sum up 200 pages in three paragraphs that really gets you centered! This is a terrific blog — love the recipes, but they look dangerous….

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