In this episode:
Welcome to Mom Writes! Today we’re introducing our new cohost and book coach, Kemlo Aki, who will be guiding us through the revision process. Kemlo’s a mom too, though her kids are grown. She’s been a book coach with Author Accelerator since 2014. Kemlo’s worked with over 80 writers, she came in on the ground floor, working directly with Jennie Nash and Lisa Cron of Story Genius. She also helped create some of the content in the coaching certification program. We’re super lucky to have her on Mom Writes!
The revision process is time to step back, take off your writer’s hats, and put on your editing hat as you look more analytically at the work you’ve done. Abby and Mel have both completed the manuscript audit, which Kemlo has reviewed, and they spend time discussing her feedback.
Mel mentions that revision can seem overwhelming at times because you’ve often got 15 different things you’re tracking in your chapter and it’s important to find a way of fixing these things that works for you. Often, and this is what Jennie has recommended in the past, is working on it piecemeal – pick one thing (a green item, yellow item or red item – for more information on this see previous episodes that cover the manuscript audit in Season 2) and do that thing, or 3 green things, or whatever you have time for. Indeed, one of the best things about revision if you’re a drafter that needs a LOT of time (like 2+ hours per drafting session) is that revision is something you can work on for 5 minutes here and there. We discuss various ways we’re planning on tackling the revisions in our manuscript, either chronologically or issue-by-issue, or both.
The great thing about Kemlo working on the manuscripts is that it’s always nice to have a pair of fresh, experienced eyes on your work. Both Abby and Mel had the curse of knowledge –and even Jennie to some extent, having been there since the very beginning of the podcast—and Kemlo was able to point out big holes and flaws that nobody had noticed until now. Even little idiosyncrasies like Mel’s tendency to use fuzzy pronouns got some attention, and she got (thankfully!) called out on them.
Fuzzy pronouns – (“it”, usually, or “them”, “they”, etc.) are problematic because your writer’s mind is automatically filling in the blank. You’re taking a chance on the reader here, as they can’t necessarily fill in the blank like you (the author) can. Taking time to clarify these things can mean the difference between a clear concept and one that pulls your reader out of the story.
Part of revision is dealing with constructive criticism. We’ve all been there, and sometimes you have to take a moment between receiving comments and deciding how to move forward on them, reminding yourself that there’s nothing wrong with not knowing something. No great writer skipped the rookie stage. Mel, Abby and Kemlo talk about what it’s like moving from that sensitive writer stage to the stage where you are delighted by feedback, even feedback that isn’t entirely rosy, because you have somewhere new to go with your work, something new to try.