Monday, April 12, 2010

In Which I Read About Revising

So I (finally) finished reading Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon. I actually had to take a break in the middle of it and read something else for a bit (Hunger Games and Catching Fire, which of course only gave me a 3 day break).

Overall the book was fantastic. But it was very heavy and not really for light reading.
Still I dog eared many a page to read again regarding Foxfire revisions. I also liked that she had a copy-editing section and also a section on how to write a synopsis and query.

Though she did say in the query section that you should tell how the book ends, which I don't agree with at all. As far as I know, you want to tantalize the agent to read more. If you tell them all of what happens, then they don't need to.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a no-holds-bar book and what to look for when revising. It covers everything from POV to voice to line edits and chapter breaks. It was exactly what I was looking for, especially when the last revision book I read just glossed over things I already knew how to do.

I think I need a break from writing books for awhile. I'm going to tackle all the fiction on my TBR pile first, before I hit another writing book (and I have a few more of those on my TBR pile as well.)

Anyone else read any good revision or writing books lately?


JustineDell said...

Write the ending in the query? That would be the first time I heard that. Sounds more like synopsis area to me. IDK, my query hooks you one what happens at the end, but doesn't give all the goods up.


Palindrome said...

I'm trying not to read editing books right now because it depresses me and reminds me that I'm not done.

I do always carry a copy of Writing Down the Bones with me for inspiration and Walking on Alligators is great for those low writing self-esteem periods.

That is all.

WV: roush- the sound I make when I exit scene.

Matthew Rush said...

Thanks for sharing Sarah, this sounds like a good nuts and bolts book about writing.

Have to agree about the query though - never heard that before.

Kittie Howard said...

I've never heard about the queary part either...and thanks for some writing basics that always come in handy (especially for Yours Truly).

Falen said...

Justine - yeah it was weird. To be fair she was discussing the synopsis part of the query, but still...

Palidrome - yeah i have that problem sometimes too, reading writing books when i should just be, you know, writing

Mathew - i would highly recommmend it. And you can just gloss over any information you don't agree with

Kittie - any time! The book is worth the read, but maybe not in one sitting

laurel said...

Lyon's book is one of the most comprehensive out there. But yeah, not exactly light reading.

A fave on my shelves is Fiction First Aid by Raymond Obstfeld. His approach of using a medical metaphor--diagnosis and treatment--is pretty helpful. It's a bit lighter in style than Lyon (though not as concise and deep).

I tend to tackle writing books a bit more piecemeal rather than pushing straight through. I absorb more that way. Like being in college, and class meets twice a week.

Teebore said...

Hmm, thanks for the recommendation. I shall have to check it out.

Fiction First Aid sounds intriguing as well.

Though I don't read nearly as many writing books as I should.

Talli Roland said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book. I haven't read any good books lately about writing, but Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is my favourite!

Shelley Sly said...

I've been wanting to read that book. It's on my wish list. Thanks for the honest review!

Laura Marcella said...

Julia Cameron's The Right to Write and Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones (I have a regular-sized copy and a pocket-sized version!) are my absolute favorites. I constantly re-read those. I also like Janet Evanovich's How I Write. Right now I'm reading The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Falen said...

laurel - that book sounds good! I, too, typically tackel them bit by bit, depending on how easy they are to read

Teebore - i get in moods to read writing books. and i have a vast collection

Talli - i still haven't read bird by bird, even though i've heard rave reviews about it. I think i own a copy somewhere

Shelley - no problem! It was a very helpful book

Laura - i haven't read either of those, but i think i own a copy of writing down the bones. I also have a copy of the art of war for writers on my TBR list

Anonymous said...

I haven't been reading about writing recently but I do have "The Elements of Style" and "On Writing" sitting on my bookshelf.

Southpaw said...

Hum, I'm going peruse the Query Shark later and see how most folks are doing it over there.

I picked up the Manuscript Makeover too, and so far, I agree it's been pretty good.

I plan on reading a couple of good books after my rough draft and before my revision. For me, it focuses me better when reading my own work and helps me identifying what’s working and what’s not.

AchingHope said...

Yes, I did read a good revision book, no, I don't remember what it was. I do know it's on my shelf, and I do know I "stole" it from my sister.

Falen said...

E Elle - oh i LOVE On Writing, both for the writing parts and the bio parts

Southpaw - that is a good idea. I remember that i read Hooked before i finished my first draft of Foxfire and i was really frustrated that i couldn't just jump right in

Aching - Ha! The book was liberated!

KarenG said...


I'm visiting here from Shelley Sly's blog (where she gave you an award btw) and I must say that Sol Stein is my favorite writer on writing ever. He's got a couple books out. Sol Stein On Writing is awesome.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like heavy reading.
But she's right - both a book synopsis and an outline call for the story's ending. Yeah, publishers do want to see it.

Falen said...

KarenG - thanks! I will have to check him out!

Alex - yeah for the synopsis of course, but not in the Query, your 5 paragraph business letter. And i don't know if i'd even classify it as Heavy, per-se, just not light

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