Revising a novel is a little like revising a freelance article except there are lots more questions to ask, lots more details to tie off, and LOTS more pages to proof.
Definitely lots more pages.
No wonder there’s such a swarm of substantive editors, developmental editors, and copyeditors out there offering their services to hapless novelists. There’s a lot of stuff to consider if you want to do it right.
And there are a ton of books out there, all claiming to offer the inside scoop on doing it right and many times, claiming contradictory actions. Do it this way, one writing expert claims. No, do it this way, demands another. Hang on a minute, the other two are a waste of time. Buy my book, clamors yet one more expert.
It’s enough to give anyone a ripping headache.
Certainly, I’ve wondered about this too since my reference library has more than my fair share of books on writing so I keep the pile to a relatively conservative minimum.
Aside from the Binder Full of Writing Strategies, I’m currently marking up the following books:
- How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey (practical, useful, insightful questions and examples)
- How to Write a Damn Good Novel II by James N. Frey (more advanced, subtle shading techniques)
- How to Write a Damn Good Mystery by James N. Frey (practical hints for succeeding in this specific genre)
- The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit by Elizabeth Lyon (worth every penny–just trust me on this one)
- Writing Mysteries: 2nd Edition, Edited by Sue Grafton (like attending your own mystery writing conference)
- On Writing by Stephen King (no bullshit, just plain, practical advice about writing it like it is)
- The Elements of Style by Strunk and White (shame on you if you don’t already own it!)
And that’s it. Even though there are so many other tempting books out there, I draw the line at these seven.
These books offer all sorts of useful hints in addition to stop-me-in-my-tracks questions. I’ve got enough on my plate without going overboard with gluttony. Besides, we all know what happens when we let gluttony get the best of us.
We get ripping headaches from all the contradictory advice.