Write It Sideways

Extreme Manuscript Makeover: Tone It Up

In Extreme Manuscript Makeover’s Introduction and Bare It All, we discovered you’re in no condition to be meeting the date of your dreams.

What would they think if you turned up in your current state?  No, you need a complete overhaul.  I’m thinking the works: tone up, slim down, new hairdo, maybe a colon cleanse…

Just how long did you say you have to get ready for this occasion?

Think of yourself — at your worst — as being the first draft of your book.  Now think of all those literary agents and big-name editors you hope to impress, as being your blind date.

One, just one, chance at acceptance.

How can you maximize your chances of making this date a success?  Give yourself an Extreme Manuscript Makeover.

If you haven’t yet worked through Bare It All, begin the challenge there to chart your plan of attack.

Otherwise, let’s move on to…

Extreme Manuscript Makeover: Tone It Up

Last time, we posed the ultimate question:  “How am I going to make this book better?”   You made a list of specific ways in which you planned to accomplish this.

In Tone It Up, we’ll begin implementing some of those plans for improvement.  I like to refer to them as the 4 R’s of Revision:  Rewrite, Rework, Revive, and Refine.

Rewrite and Rework

This will probably be the most strenuous and painful part of editing your book.  It will take the most time and effort.

By rewriting, I’m referring to areas of your manuscript that need to be entirely rewritten from scratch.  This is sometimes the best and only course of action when tweaking just won’t cut it.

By reworking, I mean moving, inserting or deleting scenes or chapters, or otherwise changing what’s already been written.  Often, writers will need to rework parts of their first draft to make it more coherent and improve flow.

Here are some ways you can rewrite and rework to tone up your manuscript:

Revive Your Characters

Characters are your book’s very lifeline.  While a story poor on plot might be boring, a story poor on character development is far worse.

During this stage of your manuscript makeover, take the opportunity to revive your characters in the following ways:

Refine Your Voice

Voice includes elements such as style, tone and language use.  The voice you use to tell your story will be one of the following:

  1. Bland: A lack of creativity or originality.
  2. Obnoxious: Pretentious;  trying too hard to be different or experimental.
  3. Memorable: Adept use of language and fluent storytelling; the essence of readability.

Obviously, you want your voice to be memorable.  Ensure it with these steps:

Are you starting to feel a little more attractive?  Is it easier to stand the sight of yourself now that you’ve put in a little elbow grease?  Don’t worry — you’ll soon be ready for your big date.

Your Turn

How’s the revision process going for you?

You’ve come so far since beginning your manuscript makeover (*sigh*).  You should really be proud of yourself.  But don’t celebrate too much just yet: there are a few more details you need to work out.

Click over to Extreme Manuscript Makeover: Get Polished, where you’ll learn strategies to help you proofread your manuscript and make it sparkle.