Saturday, May 5, 2012

Highlights Fantasy Reunion Day 7

Today was the last full day of our Fantasy Reunion Workshop.  (Sniff.)  The day started with a second round of one-on-one sessions with our mentors.  After chewing over our manuscripts for a week, we discussed any lingering issues, as well as our post-Highlights writing and revision plans.  (Not that any of us wanted to think about that!)

The view while I waited for my one-on-one.

Our workshop today featured a special guest: editor Jordan Brown.  Jordan works for Harper-Collins, specializing in Middle Grade fiction with their imprint, Waldon Pond Press.  (And he just happened to work on Anne Ursu's awesome book, Breadcrumbs.)  Jordan spoke a little bit about the market and how he acquires manuscripts.  His biggest piece of advice to writers is to clean up your manuscript as much as possible before it goes on submission.  The clearer your writing and story are, the easier it is for editors to see the end-goal and present it to their house for acquisition.

So how do you make your manuscript as clean as possible?  With that dreaded "R" word: Revision!

Every writer will need to go through revisions at some point in their writing lives.  Jordan explained that it is the most important part of the writing process, but also the hardest.  He had some steps to make the process easier, including:

1-Don't get overly attached to anything.   Sometimes great characters, or plot elements, or beautiful descriptions need to be cut for the good of the book.  He also advised that writers should consider what scenes add to the core of their manuscript, and to remove any that don't move the plot or character development forward.

2-Make sure that your character drives the plot.  Remember those important over-arching questions: What does your character want?  What are the stakes?  What stands in the way from him getting what he wants?  Knowing these elements can help keep your story on track.

3-Start small.  Revising can be very daunting.  So instead of tackling the entire manuscript at once, just focus on a certain chapter or scene.  And if that still seems overwhelming, Jordan recommended simply finding something in your manuscript that isn't perfect, even if it's just fixing commas or misspelled words.  There is nothing wrong with baby steps.  A comma here, a re-worded sentence there, and you'll be flying through those revisions before you know it!

It was great hanging out with Jordan and hearing the ins and outs of an editor's life.  Sometimes we writers forget that there are friendly faces behind those publishing house desks.  :)  


Jordan even stayed for dinner tonight, entertaining us with his stories and food preferences.  But I suppose you want to hear about breakfast first, which was oatmeal with tropical fruit, sausage, and coffee cake.  Lunch was egg salad sandwiches with lemon-poppyseed salad, potato salad, and molasses cookies.  Our appetizers during Jordan's workshop included local fresh cheeses, mushroom-walnut dip, and bagel chips.  Dinner was green-chili chicken with cactus tortillas, rice, black beans, and kale salad.  (I believe salad-hater Jordan declared it, "Delicious!")  And our final Highlights dessert was sugared fruit with chocolate chip biscotti.

My belly is already lamenting going back home tomorrow to a refrigerator full of yogurt and hot dogs, but at least there are a few meals left!  (I foresee brunch on my horizon...)

No comments:

Post a Comment