2nd Drafts / Research

Make Your Story Stronger

Good news for this week: WHEN YOU REACH ME was the 2010 Newbery Medal Winner! Congratulations to Rebecca Stead on this well-deserved honor! Click here for more award winners (Caldecott, Printz, National Book Award, etc).

Reminder for this week: THE LIGHTNING THIEF, by Rick Riordan, will be discussed February 3rd here, on this website (not on LiveJournal). Buy it or get it from the library, I care not. But do it now, before the movie-rush sweeps away the copies!

Bad news for this week: I have strep throat. So my feats are few, and this post is short!

Winter’s Editing and Revising Extravaganza—This Week’s Feats:

1. Themes. I deeply pondered what I wish to convey with this book. Major or minor themes, obvious or subtle. Sometimes I wonder if I’m tackling too many themes, and thus will fail at all. If I come across as preachy, I will fail. If I don’t inspire you to think, I will also fail. This is why good critique partners are priceless. Until I get their feedback, I will struggle on blindly.

2. Research. The one good thing about confinement to a sick bed—lots of reading time. I reread my old mythology notes and discovered new mythology. Then I recorded in my notebook which mythology to use for my story and which to ignore. It’s all so interesting, I wish I could include it all. But I can only choose the aspects that drive the plot. Still, if someone were to ask me for more details, I hope to answer thoroughly, without hesitation.

3. Sources. Whether they be quotes, books, movies, songs, or works of art—sources can add depth to a story or even support a theme. I’m currently deciding which sources to refer to. Of course, copyright can become an issue. You need permission to quote someone in your book. I’ll worry about that later. For now, it’s fun to wallow in the words of those wiser than I. Today I’ve been devouring a perfect anthology, catching my breath every time I find a relevant quote. I usually hesitate to highlight or dog-ear my books, but this poor anthology is receiving rough (though well-loved) treatment.

All of the above can make your story stronger. What do you hope to accomplish with your book? What message would you like to share? Whatever it is, research other sources to improve your themes. Work and work and work until you’re sick and lost and confused. Then hand it over to your critique partners so they can lead you back to the right path.

Questions? Concerns? Feel free to share your WERE accomplishments! I’d love to hear your insights.

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4 thoughts on “Make Your Story Stronger

  1. True about critique partners, they tell you what themes came across on the page, and which stayed in the mind.

    In Demas’ First Task, my themes are “What laws are worth keeping, and which should be broken”, and “relationships are more important than tasks”. I know I can make those stronger- have to work some more on it.

    Well, so far I’m right on schedule! Yay! While my readers have my book, I’m working on synopsis and query letter. I’m going to finish the synopsis this week and get started on the query letter. Two readers have finished reading it (and a third is almost done with it) so that’s a GOOD sign! 🙂 At least they liked it enough to finish it.
    Love your blog, Erin! Hope you feel better!

    • I love my critique partners. 😀

      I think your “relationships are more important that tasks” theme is perfect the way it is—Turne drives that one home. The theme about the laws . . . that depends on how subtle you want it. If you want it more obvious, you could add to it a little.

      YAY for good scheduling! And I’m glad the test readers are finishing quickly! I’ll email you soon about the synopsis and query letter.

      Thanks, Ellie!! And I’m feeling a little better each day. 🙂

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