Monday, May 3, 2010

Novel Revision Retreat

I had the most amazing weekend: my first SCBWI regional retreat.  If you ever get the opportunity to attend Darcy Pattison's Novel Revision Retreat, do it!

In Pattison's book Novel Metamorphosis, she breaks down revision into smaller, manageable chunks like characters, plot, and setting.   At the retreat, she gave us mini-lessons in each of these areas, providing us with several examples from published novels and picture books.  

Pattison is a strong supporter of whole manuscript critiques.  Before the retreat, each participant exchanged completed manuscripts with three others.  We didn't do line-by-line edits; instead, we looked at the "big picture" for inconsistencies, strong and weak chapters, and good examples of characterization, setting, and language.  I stayed with this group throughout the retreat as we discussed each of Pattison's mini-lessons and how they pertained to our own manuscripts.  It was so helpful to receive input from three other people who knew my manuscript.  

Another suggestion that Pattison gives is to use a shrunken manuscript.  She describes this more in her book, but it's a way to visually represent your entire manuscript in about 30 pages to look for places where your conflict, dialogue, and scenes may be weak.  I'm a visual learner, so seeing my manuscript this way was amazing!

I admit that my brain hurt when I left Idaho and headed back home.  But it was a good hurt.  I have so many ideas of how to revise my manuscript.  Now I have a summer project: to make my novel better so I can start querying by the fall.  Of course, there's that other WIP that I'd like to finish.  It's going to be a busy (but productive) summer!

16 comments:

J. Kaye said...

Wow! Your weekend sounds like it was an exciting one.

Angie Paxton said...

It sounds like an amazing workshop. Little jealous.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh man, I'm so jealous! What a fab retreat to attend. It sounds like it was a very successful weekend for you! Very cool.

Liz H. Allen said...

Wow, I want to go to a retreat like that. It sounds like it was fantastic!

Sandy Shin said...

Oh wow, that sounds so wonderful. I do wish I could go to a retreat like that! Good luck with your revisions. :)

Andria said...

I've already bought the book just since we were talking this morning. I'm pretty excited about it. And now you can teach me all you learned. :D

MT said...

Hey, thanks for the info! It's always helpful to hear of something like this. I'll have to get the book. :)

Tara said...

That retreat sounds wonderful! I'm going to have to check out that book.

Eric W. Trant said...

Definitely a workshop! Wow. No time at all for beer, was there.

- Eric

catwoods said...

Sounds amazing. I've always wanted to participate in one of Darcy's retreats. Sadly, we haven't been able to bring her to our area.

I imagine it would be incredible having people work through your entire manuscript to help you really dig into plot problems and weak characterization.

Best luck on your rewrites!

sarahjayne smythe said...

Sounds like a great weekend, indeed. I'm glad you got so much out of it. Good luck with your revisions. :)

Palindrome said...

Wow! That sounds like fun and a lot of help! I can't wait to pick up a copy of that book when I'm done with my ms.

Jen said...

Wow what a workshop, you know it was good when you left with your brain hurting!!

Sounds like a book I need to have on my shelf!

Julie Dao said...

I really hope I can attend a workshop like that one day soon! It sounds like it was a lot of fun and very educational. I need to read a book like that for sure.

MT said...

PS I tagged you on my blog this afternoon. ;)

Wendy Swore said...

Howdy, So there was a writer's conference in Idaho? I live in Pocatello area and I went to Provo UT to find one a couple weeks ago. Where was it at exactly?

I found your blog through MT's link and I'm glad. You've some very interesting posts here, and it's always cool reading what another aspiring author has to say. THanks for sharing. :)