Have you ever tried to solve a What’s Wrong With This Picture dilemma? Where you stare at the image for an hour straight without seeing a darn thing, but when you walk away for a while and then take another look, the answer jumps right off the page?
Welcome to the Revision Process.
Today’s REVISE post is about gaining new perspectives on your writing, so you can bring it to life on the page.
The term “Off-draft writing” means exactly what it says: writing that’s completed away from your draft, but which both informs your story and enhances its depth. As Messners says, “Sometimes, the very best ideas for revising a piece of writing happen not when we’re staring at that piece of writing but when we’ve set it aside to write on a different sheet of paper or type in a new document.”
Messner points out: “The word REVISION breaks down into re-vision… or seeing again.”
|When you look at your piece from various angles and ask yourself the right questions, you’re able to crack open your story to see your ideas in new ways, and love your story all the more. The more you study your characters, the better you understand their motives and conflicts and can ratchet up the suspense. The more you observe your settings, the deeper each outer landscape reflects a character’s inner one. Knowing your writing intimately is what makes your story believable and real.|
How real is your story right now?
Whether you’re in the throes of revisions or helping your students through the process, if the believability factor is anything less than 10, then consider some of Messner’s refreshing, creative, off-draft writing prompts:
Let’s start with the main character.
- 1. Describe your main character’s bedroom. Don’t forget to look in drawers and closets, and under the bed.
- 10. Write your main character’s obituary.
- 14. Write a letter from your main character to you (the author!) Start like this: The thing you’re not understanding about me is…
If you want each of your characters to leap off the page in 3-D, then you must consider all facets of their personality as vital to your story:
- 12. Write about your antagonist’s greatest regret in life.
- 23. Create a music playlist for your antagonist.
- 28. What’s in your antagonist’s refrigerator?
- 39. Make an imaginary Facebook wall for a character you need to understand better.
- 52. What would your character’s Pinterest boards be about?
The time and care you take – bit by bit – to imagine and craft truly authentic stories is what makes your fiction and creative nonfiction Real To Readers. Contemplate Kate Messner’s final prompt to get to the heart and soul of your writing:
- 65. Stephen King said that, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” What is the truth your book is telling, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction?
When you’re stuck inside the revision process, W.O.R.D. Ink highly recommends using Messner’s 65 invaluable revision techniques to help you think in different directions and spark your creativity. Taking another 65 looks at your writing will no doubt trigger new approaches and modes of thought, presenting opportunities to turn a decent piece of writing into dynamite!
Kate Messner is an award-winning children’s author and National Board Certified teacher of fifteen years. For a full reveal of her 65 revision prompts, check out her awesome blog post: 65 Off-Draft Writing Prompts to Kick-Start Revision
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