10 Tips to Revising a Story (and a Life)

I’ve been learning so much about fiction writing these day, so I thought I’d share various tips.

If your story’s stuck, maybe try this:

1. Chop off the first 50 pages. Start here.

2. Start at the end. Then tell the story through a flashback.

3. Put characters in the middle of a crisis on the first page.

4. Reveal a character’s past through dialogue or flashbacks instead of a long narrative.

5. Remove details so the reader feels smart. Readers can fill in details better than you think.

6. Switch the point of view from third person to first person or vice versa.

7. Have a character summarize the conflict of the story in just one sentence.

8. Ask how every chapter adds tension. If it doesn’t, maybe cut it.

9. Introduce an enemy–or at least a distasteful character–early on. Readers like to root for characters against other characters.

10. Remove a subplot if your narrative gets too complicated. Complex doesn’t necessarily mean good.

I think about these tips in the same way I think about living. In other words:

1. Stop living in the past. Start with today.

2. Remember that we win in the end with God. Look at our life as one big flashback from a glorious ending.

3. A little adventure goes a long way. Don’t run from crisis; get right in there.

4. If we’re replaying a long narrative about our pasts, it’s just boring.

5. We don’t need to know all the details. That’s not faith.

6. Maybe we need to consider another point of view.

7. What’s our personal mission statement in one sentence? What’s the driving force of our lives?

8. Unresolved things can be good. They drive us to seek God and move more deeply into a life of faith.

9. There is a real enemy of our souls, but Jesus wins. 

10. Simplify. 

______________________
I love the writing life!

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