Monday, September 20, 2010

OC/Riverside Schmooze, 9/13, Katie Wheeler Library: WRITING IS REWRITING

THANK YOU to the amazing group of writers who schmoozed it up in Irvine on Sept. 13th. Even with our big circle--we were able to discuss queries, upcoming events, and brainstorm individual revision concerns. Here is what we came up with:

Hemmingway was said to have revised For Whom the Bell Tolls 40 times. Janet Fitch reworked White Oleander almost fifty times. So don’t feel bad if you’ve rewritten your manuscript more times than you can count on your fingers (or toes, for that matter.)

In her book Pen on Fire, local author Barbara DeMarco-Barrett says that “writing is rewriting.” She also says that rewriting is “where the craft works its magic. Things slip into their slots.” DeMarco-Barrett helps us remember this truth. Revising is where we become extraordinary writers.

But face it, revising is overwhelming. Painstaking. And seems downright impossible at times. That is why revision should be taken in steps—layer by layer. In the same fashion as YA author, John H. Ritter’s Seven Layers of Revision, we brainstormed our own list of “layers” to focus on in our rewrites. Take highlighters, post-it notes, whatever works, and go through your manuscript looking for one element at a time.

The OC/Riverside Schmoozer’s Layers of Revision List:

1.) humor

2.) clich├ęs (cut them, or twist them into something interesting)

3.) clarity of voice/POV

4.) passive writing

5.) dialogue (and tags as well)

6.) word searches (look for words you over used)

7.) show not tell

8.) density

9.) clarity of plot, pacing, balance between dialogue/action/narration—do all your scenes move your plot forward?

10.) tone

Take it slow, Pace yourself…and then jump! You can do it!

Schmoozer’s recommendations:

Books on craft:

*The Fire in Your Fiction, by Donald Maass

*Self Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King

Website resources: &


  1. I like this list of revision layers - especially the idea of catching cliches - and twisting them to something more unique! Thanks for sharing,

  2. Thanks Lee! That is one of John H. Ritter's ideas. I've learned so much from him.