Congratulations! You finished your rough draft of your picture book, chapter book, middle grade,young adult novel, it may be fiction or nonfiction, and…
It’s revision time. Sometimes, revision is downright painful. But ask any author and they’ll tell you it’s then that the real work is done. It’s when a manuscript is pulled apart – one sentence, one scene, one chapter at time. It’s the only way writers can see whether they’ve done what they set out to do, or not.
“The SCBWI-C mentorship program was great! For four months we worked on POV, character development, plot structure, story and character arcs, and fine-tuning my prose. My mentor helped me see my manuscript with a different lens so I could better understand how my characters functioned within their world. What a fruitful and fabulous experience!” – Mentee
During the four-month Revision Quest program, writers will work one-on-one with a published author to analyze every aspect of their manuscript, looking to answer such questions as:
· How early in the story does the main conflict appear? (Hopefully, on the first page.)
· Is my protagonist’s motivation as compelling as it needs to be? Does his or her problem matter to my target audience? How could it be made stronger?
· Have I created a series of hurdles my protagonist must overcome and which move the story along?
· Have I chosen the right format for my picture book (rhyme vs. prose, concept book vs. classic story structure?)
· How’s my pacing? Where is the story slow and where can it be speeded up?
· Do my characters talk in language appropriate to the age I say they are? Does the dialogue work to keep the story moving?
· Are my scenes well-rounded? Is there a real need for each scene I’ve created? How does each one move the story along? Is the text as tightly written as it could be?
· Have I missed “hot spots” – those places where I could have ramped-up the drama with more emotional detail?
In the 2017 Revision Quest program:
· Picture book mentors will offer guidance on 2-4 manuscripts over a four-month period. Through editorial feedback and craft development “homework,” mentees will end with more refined manuscripts and a deeper understanding of the genre, writing process, and their own authorial perspective.
“The SCBWI mentor program was a valuable experience for me. My mentor critiqued three manuscripts for me, one of which was created in one day from a complete re-write. We even tackled rhyme! The guiding questions she posed with each critique proved to be instructive and allowed me to tighten my work. I also learned when I have come to love my words too much and when they need to be sacrificed. I recommend the mentor program to anyone who wants to improve their craft. – Picture Book Mentee
· For novel writers, mentors will read a large section of the student’s manuscript each month. They’ll review the manuscript for both big picture and finer issues, and write a detailed editorial letter. Students will submit both new pages and revised pages in each packet. So much more than a simple critique, this process allows students and mentors to immerse themselves in the world of the manuscript. The student, with the mentor’s guidance, can hone it to be the best it can be.
“My mentor was what I needed at just the right time in my writing journey. She struck the perfect balance between pushing and praising. She especially helped me to see what in my story could stay and what could go. She also helped me develop my characters’ emotional arcs. I will always be grateful for the experience.” – Novel Mentee