Saturday, May 1, 2010

Suzanne Selfors: How a Reincarnated, Middle-Aged Dwarf Became an Immortal 16-Year Old and How it Almost Killed Me

Reported by Brenda Winter Hansen

After finishing the revisions on her last book, Suzanne Selfors described the experience as the most hellish of her life. With eight books published in four years, she's a veteran at revisions, but she admits that every book she writes gives her a different set of problems when it comes to revising. Revising often requires gutting your rough draft, maybe even killing off a character or two, so keep your chin up and hang tight.

Her advice:

#1. Finish your story before you revise any of it.
#2. Write your first draft behind closed doors (don't give it to your critique group during this time).
#3. It's okay if your first draft is sh*t.
#4. Let the first draft marinate at least 6 weeks, but give it to your critique group while you take a break from it.
#5. When you begin to revise, take everything out that is NOT the story.

The revisions that transformed her adult novel into a YA novel were traumatic, and Suzanne had to remind herself why she was writing the book and what she loved about it in order to keep going.

She suggested that writers keep asking themselves the most important questions: What does your character want? Is there conflict resolution? Has the main character changed by the end of the novel?

The single most important takeaway from her talk was: "Don't feel like you're a failure!" It's the revising that makes or breaks a book, so don't give up.

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