Anna DeStefano Workshop: Learn to Rewrite

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Workshop Outline

Anna DeStefano

Learn to Rewrite--finishing the manuscript is just a beginning... Join Best-selling, Romantic Times awardwinning author Anna DeStefano as she shares tools and techniques for navigating the editorial revisions necessary to sell your next manuscript 1.

Storytelling is both art and hard work Losing yourself in your characters and creating magical journeys for your readers is a writer's art. But if it were that easy, every aspiring author would have a book on the shelves. •

In A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction, David Kaplan tackles the question "Why Revise." And he suggests that, "You need three things to be a good fiction writer...talent... a knowledge of craft... and just as necessary, a devotion to revision, to a merciless re-working of your writing until it is the best it can be..."


Talent and craft will only get you so far. Don't sacrifice what the audience might read and experience by not being willing to put in the hard work required to make the story better.

Rewriting... Comprehensive Workshop Outline


Publishing is a team sport Delivering a story that will touch a reader's heart is a job that involves a healthy dose of teamwork. If your goal is to be a published writer of creative fiction, get used to the idea of achieving your final product through a collaborative effort. To do just about anything but self-pub, you must first pitch a story to an editor who's agreeable to buying it (once you find one), then gain editorial approval of the completed project, then revise the work until the publisher is ready to begin production. Embrace the scary concept of revision, accept for the sake of argument that rewriting is going to happen, and you're in a better place to work with your editors, rather than dreading, or worse fighting, their feedback. The process is basically the same for both the published author and the unpublished writer looking at her first rejection or revision letter .


Revision fear What is it about revisions that has some of us running scared? Especially when those revisions are coming from an outside source, like an editor. • • •


Fear of revising your voice out of the story Falling too much in love with your first draft The deadline card--there's no time!

The work that comes after The End Kaplan suggests that, "The purpose of writing a story is to rewrite it." •

I would suggest that the purpose of a story is to engage the reader, and the best way to achieve that is to rewrite until each part of your book is doing the job you need it to. We're very much in an on-demand industry that requires prolific and timely production. This limits the time we have to develop projects. But what if we carved out time to do whatever revising we can?


Rewriting... Comprehensive Workshop Outline


It helps to see revisions as an important part of the process--not the step you don't really understand and never quite get to.

There are two steps in the revision process: 1) revisions you do before an editor sees your work, and 2) revisions done at the editor’s request. We'll spend the rest of this workshop exploring both.

Self-editing Here are some suggestions of areas you might focus on as you rewrite before submitting your material to an editor: Remember, these are only suggestions. Not everyone works in the same way. To find the method that works best for you may take some experimentation. If one method of crafting a story doesn’t work, try another until you find your comfort zone. • • • • • • • • • •

Revise openings. Revise secondary character journeys and arcs. Move plot points and secondary plot devices to build pacing and heighten conflict. Revise and smooth out primary character arcs. Cut what's not essential--particularly, backstory. Add what is essential--particularly, backstory. Rearrange the plot to focus your characters on their goals--the plot should drive external and internal conflict, as well as propel the character towards what's at stake. Revise endings for impact--beyond the hook. Revise prose for punch. One final read, to pull it all together.


Rewriting... Comprehensive Workshop Outline


Editorial Revisions Bottom line, editorial feedback is a vital tool that helps you shape, refine, and hone your stories. • • • • • • •


Revisions may challenge you emotionally and professionally. But they also make you dive back into your stories and understand better what you're trying to accomplish. Again, revisions aren't personal. Revisions are about making your story stronger. It’s in an author’s interest to act professionally because she is being treated as a professional by her editor. All writers want to be told that their work is great. To be told that it needs fixing can be a very emotional experience. The author/editor relationship is unique. Professional, but it’s not like others, because of the emotional element. As Executive Editor Paula Eykelhof has said: “The editor is the first reader, and a reader first.” The editor reads on behalf of the reader, but she reads with a more critical eye. Authors and editors don’t always agree--some specific examples.

Tips for working with editorial revisions • • • • • • •

See revisions as opportunities--embrace the change you know will make your work better. Read your revisions, take a mental-health break, then read them again, once you've gained a little perspective. Identify the "quick" fixes. Check some things off the list. It does a body good. Read the heavier revisions for overall theme--try to understand what the editor's looking for. When you have your plan of attack, get editorial feedback for issues for which you're still unclear. Work through one revision point at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself-tackle each change, THEN step back and look at the big picture. In the end, remember everything in your story is connected. Plot cannot be seen in isolation from the character, etc.


Rewriting... Comprehensive Workshop Outline


Revisions aren't personal Let me repeat that. Revisions ARE NOT personal. Revisions are about making your story stronger. Your editor is the first pair of eyes to see the manuscript after you've submitted it, and she can often recognize a problem in the plot or an inconsistency in character that an author might miss. As writers it's easy to get so close to our work that it's difficult to see where changes need to be made. The editor's job is to point out where the story could be strengthened--to help the author bring out her best work. Editors are on our side, working with us. They're working hard to help make sure our stories shine.

Suggested Reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print Renni Browne and Dave King

Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction) David Michael Kaplan

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting Robert McKee

The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction (Writers Digest) Michael Seidman


Bio Anna DeStefano Nationally best-selling, award-winning romance author Anna DeStefano ( is the president of Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), a group of over 300 published authors and aspiring writers that meets monthly in Atlanta. Anna has successfully channeled her skills as a Senior Tech Writer into the more creative field of writing contemporary fiction. A GA Tech honors graduate with 10 years of experience working in Corporate IT, Anna applies the more analytical side of her personality to the study of the craft of storytelling, but her imagination rules when it's time to let the planning go and write. The result--four award-winning novels published since 2004, with three more to be released in 2007, and nearly half a million copies of her books in print in over 6 different languages. Her interactive workshops on the writing process--plotting through character, improvisation, and rewriting--regularly attract standing-room-only crowds wherever she speaks. Visit Anna at for more information about her emotional, heartwarming books--she has three out this year and is launching a new Superromance series, Atlanta Heroes, in October. She's constantly giving away fun prizes--purses!--on her website and her blog,