Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Revising a Manuscript: The First Step

I have six months--make that five months now--to revise a novel that I began writing over a year ago. I have six months to revise it because it received the great privilege and honor of being chosen to participate in the Nevada SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator)'s annual Mentor Program. This wonderful program is truly a labor of love and dedication for the organizers (led by the chapters two regional advisors) and the eight mentors, all respected professionals in the children's literature industry.

I was matched with a mentor who not only knows the art of writing for children inside and out, she is super-wise, witty, warm (is that enough alliteration?)--and she understands and shares the vision of my older middle-grade novel. This is an opportunity of opportunities, one I cannot (nor want to) blow. So, I wondered, how will I go about revising this story into the kind of shape it needs to be in by April 1 without blowing it?

By day, I work as a technical writer in the software industry, so I work with a lot of tools--not hammers and saws but software applications and utilities. So, the first thing I did, after reading carefully and numerous times the editorial letter and line edits my mentor did for my story, was to open a project management application (I used OmniPlan, but there are others) and plan out my schedule. I included every step in the process, allowing for vacations, holidays, and days I knew I'd get little writing done. Then I printed out several views of my schedule and pinned them up where I could see them as I work.

That was my first step.

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