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Great Definition of Revision

This came from brilliant YA author Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twitter yesterday, and I agree wholeheartedly:

Revision means throwing out the boring crap and making what’s left sound natural.

Let’s all mediate on that today!


  1. Bane’s avatar

    Now just gotta figure out what’s the ‘boring’ and what’s the ‘crap’ 🙂

  2. Sheri Larsen’s avatar

    Amen! Only, I also agree with Bane. Thankfully we have betas.

  3. Elan Cross’s avatar

    Eeeeee! A post on Tuesday! And a great one! You have just made my day, Mary:)
    Off to throw away the boring…

  4. Peter Dudley’s avatar

    I might suggest that more than one mediator might spoil the broth. 🙂

    My younger son (4th grade) is writing his “young author” book for school right now. It will end up being about 2,000 words, I’m guessing. He knows I write and has asked me some advice (he wrote himself into a corner at one point, a good lesson in plotting). Last night he asked about prologues, and we discussed until we ended at something very similar to what you quoted. If it’s important, work it into the story. If it’s not, then leave it out. He concluded that he didn’t need a prologue.

  5. Anita’s avatar

    True. True. You just have to be honest with yourself about what the “boring crap”‘ actually is. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thomas’s avatar

    I agree. It’s all about spotting the bits the reader will skip, and then deleting them.

  7. Lill’s avatar

    Well, Amen to that. Very well put.

  8. Naomi Canale’s avatar

    Agreed, Mary. Gracias!

  9. Lisa Gibson’s avatar

    Eyes closed…”Om!”

  10. Theresa Milstein’s avatar

    I was privileged to see Laurie Halse Anderson talk at the NESCBWI conference a few years ago. Her speech was inspiring and I scribbled away, trying to copy it word for word. Here’s another great bit of wisdom from her.

  11. @jmartinlibrary’s avatar

    Is there anyone else around here who secretly fears that removing the boring crap will result in a 250 blank pages?

    Er, maybe that’s just me? 😉

  12. Peter Dudley’s avatar

    So after yesterday’s comment, I went home and typed up the rest of my son’s story for his “young authors” book for school. Not only did he add in a prologue, but he also added an epilogue.

    So much for dad’s writing lectures.


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