Photo by Cynthia Leitich Smith, children and young adult author. Click the photo to visit her site.
     Oh, no! Revision! Anything but revision! If that's how you feel about revision then let me take a moment of your time and see if I can change your mind.
     First of all, I am so glad that I don't have to be perfect. So glad that I can write down a first draft and know that I can come back and make changes. The truth is, every piece of first draft writing is like a lump of clay that a potter puts on a wheel. It then needs to be shaped. Fortunately, a piece of writing can ALWAYS be revised--unlike a piece of pottery that gets fired into a permanent shape. Even PUBLISHED writing can be revised by the author.
      I like to think of revision as re-envisioning my writing. I write a draft and then get with some of my writing buddies and ask them to read it. I want them to help me dig deeper by asking questions. I might have a question to ask them--like, Do you think that last sentence feels right? They might then give me a suggestion. I know that as an author, I can accept the suggestion or not--it's my choice.
      When I go back to do a second draft, I look at the questions and the suggestions and I write about each one. Then, even though I have a computer which can cut and paste, I like to cut apart my drafts and move them around, paste them into a new order. I'm not the only one who does this. Many authors do...including Cynthia Leitich Smith. I've included a photo she took after she cut and pasted to dig deeper into her new novel. Here's a tip: even if you glue things down--you can always cut up that piece of paper!I love being surprised by what my second draft looks like--it's like watching a bean stalk grow toward the sun--and I don't mean just in length but in strength--finally flowering. I'm not yet at the point where my stalk or writing will actually produce--that requires a final polishing and editing--but more about that in the future~

Assignment: This week, choose a piece of writing to re-envision. You've been writing ALOT. Make a choice from:
  • Your photograph paragraph
  • Your "show more than tell" feeling story
  • Your letter to Kek
Here's what you do:  

  1. Consider your draft and its format. Can your photograph paragraph turn into a story with a beginning, middle and end? Does your feeling story have a good beginning middle and end--does it really get across the feeling through events that happened and details? Is your letter to Kek have all the parts of a good letter--introduction, middle, and conclusion?  Do you have a need for some suggestions? What questions do you have? Write them down.
  2. Share your draft with a classmate and ask him or her for some small and big potato questions AND ask them if they have any ideas for suggestions. (Just listen, don't argue! A writer always gets to decide what goes in his or her own writing.)
  3. Write the answers to the questions and try writing to the suggestion. You don't have to write alot--even a sentence will help you explore.
  4.  Look at the comments and questions I have made on your writing and write about some of those. 
  5. Get your supplies together: glue stick, scissors, a large piece of paper and a highlighter.
  6. Highlight the parts of your draft that you really like--what you want to keep--and cut them apart.
  7. Arrange these pieces on the large piece of paper in the way that feels best to you. Glue them down.
  8. Read back through this new draft and see if there are places where you might need another sentence or another suggestion. Don't be surprised if you feel like you do--