How to revise your story

Pretend it isn’t yours.

Maybe this method only makes sense for me, because I’m also an editor and I’m used to marking up (carefully and compassionately, I swear) other people’s work. But it’s worth a shot, right?

So here is what I did. I printed my story out and brought it with me to my son’s appointment. (I get a lot of work done in waiting rooms. Also during gymnastics. Sometimes during the commercials of TV shows. Any downtime is fair game.) I pretended it wasn’t my story and that I’d never read it before. And I grabbed a pen and just marked the heck out of it.

This line, too long. The pacing is off here. This word should be replaced. Needs more action here. 

I made the story better, I tightened it up and I knocked down the word count, always excellent things to do when you’re writing a picture book. There are one or two more things I want to fix before I send it out into the wild, but all in all, a most productive waiting-room visit.

And for my next period of downtime? I’ve got another story printed and ready for marking.

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