#ReVISIONweek Day 1: NOTE TO SELF: HOW TO CRITIQUE YOUR MANUSCRIPT LIKE A CP

WELCOME TO ReVISIONweek!

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We’re THRILLED you’re here! Each day, you’ll receive tips and tricks from one of our members. We hope the posts will offer guidance and support as you dive head first into your revisions. Please be sure to briefly comment on each post so that you can enter to win prizes at the end of this week-long challenge.

Today’s post is by the talented Katie Frawley, one of the founders of fantastically fiery #FireButtChallenge. Her amazing debut picture book is slated for a January 2021 release.

Without further ado…

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By: Katie Frawley

After I crank out a fresh first draft, I usually feel one of two ways about it:

  1. Wow! This story is amazing! I’m pretty sure it requires only minor tweaks before a Big Five editor snaps it up. (Spoiler alert: It’s never as great as I think.)
  2. Wow! This story is garbage! I’m pretty sure I should throw my computer into a river and put myself out of my misery. (Spoiler alert: It’s never as bad as I think.)

The truth is usually somewhere between these two extremes, but how can I tell? Well, I start by giving myself a little break from my manuscript…about a week or so. Then, I open up my first draft file, and critique it like it’s someone else’s work, by making notes in the margins.

-I look for plot issues. (“Pacing is sloooooow here. Think about cutting this scene.”)

-I ask big picture questions. (“Is this character likable? Does the reader have a chance to root for him? Can we make her blue page even bluer?”)

-I even pat myself on the back when I deserve it. (“HAHAHAHA! Kids will love this!”)

Making notes in the margins helps give me a little emotional distance from the story. We LOVE our stories, our characters, and every itty bitty word! So it can be tough to step back and look through an objective lens. Marking up the manuscript like you would someone else’s work makes it just a teensy bit easier to see with fresh eyes and kill your darlings when necessary.

After I have made all my notes, good and bad, I give the story a second break. In another few days, I’ll be ready to go back into my first draft, read my own critique, and revise.

Only after I’ve completed this very first round of revisions is my story ready for my critique partners’ eyes. The Big Five editors will just have to wait!

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AUTHOR BIO
: Katie Frawley was born and raised in the great state of Florida (GO GATORS!). She lives in South Florida with her husband and four children. Katie works from home, writing (and REVISING!) her picture book manuscripts. She also enjoys testing new recipes with her four miniature sous chefs; defending her backyard garden against the never-ending onslaught of the invading reptile horde (she does not like iguanas); and reading all kinds of wonderful books (whenever her children allow her a spare minute)! Katie’s debut picture book will be announced in trade publications soon and is slated for a January 2021 release date. She is represented by Curtis Russell of PS Literary. To find out more, visit
www.katiefrawley.com or follow her on Twitter @KatieFrawley1.

 

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142 thoughts on “#ReVISIONweek Day 1: NOTE TO SELF: HOW TO CRITIQUE YOUR MANUSCRIPT LIKE A CP

  1. One of my friends makes notes on the side of the manuscript even as he’s writing it, so he doesn’t get bogged down making changes and corrections during the “big picture” stage.

  2. Thanks Katie! I never thought of “Marking up the manuscript like you would someone else’s work” I’m pulling out the red pen marker this week.

  3. I will definitely need to put the ms away before I do that for sure. Because I am also one of two things after writing my first draft , and there’s no middle ground 🙂 1. Damn, that’s good! 2. Yikes, what was I thinking?!
    Writing notes on the margin for your own ms- that’s a genius idea!

  4. What do you mean my work is not brilliant the first go round? 🤣😂🤣

    Ha! Thanks for validating how we feel about our writing! I know we KNOW this but it is nice to hear it from someone else. 🙂

  5. Love the short and sweet post! I never approached looking at my first drafts as if I were critiquing a partner’s work. I wonder if I can shift my mindset enough to read it that way. Any tips to approach it that way.

  6. Thanks for the tips, Katie! I just finished a draft and as tempting as it is to start revising, I think I’ll let it marinate a few days first. 🙂

  7. Thanks so much for the tip – rather than digging in with my current wip – I pulled an older one out of the drawer and find that I see many fixable things that I thought before were unfixable.

  8. I usually become obsessed with attempting to get it better. I truly appreciate the “put it away” and seeing it with new eyes like it is from one of my CP instead of my own. Thanks Katie for sharing.

  9. Love the tip to give the MS a SECOND break. I find that I can mark up the margins just fine but then try to jump right into editing. That is where I hit a wall. Thank you! Great article.

  10. All great points! Taking time away from the ms and letting it “cool” is crucial. I’ve saved myself great embarrassment doing that!

  11. Thanks for the great tips! I really like the idea of setting it aside and then making comments in the margins. Usually I get out my highlighter and highlight the spots that I think need work. I’m trying your method, hopefully it will give me more distance and objectivity.

  12. Oh no! Too many projects this week, can’t remember if I commented already. Plan to print out current WIPs and critique for myself- thanks for the idea, can’t imagine why I’m not yet doing this!

  13. Can I make her blue page even bluer? I love that, Katie! I never thought of it that way…but I will from now on. Just finished a revision for an R&R…hopefully I provided the mc with a blue page that was the deepest shade of blue.

  14. Great post, Katie. I am often told how insightful my critiques are and I’d love to ge amy own feedback from myself. This trick just may be the ticket. TY.

  15. Many good things in this post. These were my fav questions: Is this character likable? Does the reader have a chance to root for him? Can we make her blue page even bluer?. Thanks for the challenge and the insight, Katie.

  16. Pingback: #ReVISIONweek and another win! – Helen Ishmurzin

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