WRITING NEW ADULT FICTION Launch Week, Day 4: Revising in the Speed-Driven NA Market

*Scroll down to enter today’s “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway. Congratulations to yesterday’s winner, Whitney Sostarich!

The revision part of the process takes longer than the initial writing. The writing usually comes very quickly, then the revision will take two to three times longer than the first draft.” –Sylvia Day, international bestselling author and former president of Romance Writers of America, from Writing New Adult Fiction

NA writers feel great pressure to publish fast. Readers clamoring for the next book in your series, market opportunities feeling so “now, now, now!”, self-publishing technology reducing production cycles to nanoseconds, and other NA authors cranking out book after book after book so shouldn’t you be, too?

No. Take a breath. Now blow that frenzied feeling out of your body and take control. Refuse to be pushed into going out as fast as you can with the quickest story you can write. Publishing success isn’t measured in how fast you go from idea to publication—it’s measured in readers so satisfied with the reading experience you crafted that they want to share it with their friends and then buy more. Those readers would prefer you take longer to write a great next book than publish just-okay stuff fast. Do you want to see 3-star reviews of your books that say, “It was okay, but it felt rushed,” or do you want 4- and 5-star reviews that say, “I loved it and you will, too!”? Allow yourself the extra time you need to revise. Don’t let outside forces determine when you say, “Done!”

And I’m not just talking line tweaks. I mean evaluating the entire manuscript—scenes, character arcs, all of it—and committing to fixing any weaknesses you identify. Revision is a powerful writing tool. Every spring DearEditor.com dedicates a week to interviews with prolific award-winners and bestsellers to examine their revision processes. Click here to hear how 19 writers with 500+ books between them tackle revision and still publish voluminously.

So of course I wrote a big ol’ chapter about revising for Writing New Adult Fiction, keeping NA needs in mind. Here are two important elements you can assess when it’s time to evaluate your NA manuscript for revision:

  • Check your settings for NA appeal and freshness: 60% of Americans go straight to college from high school. If you’ve got a campus setting, have you set the scenes in uncommon campus spaces to make the familiar feel fresh? Get your characters out of the campus beer garden and into the on-campus bowling alley, with all the noises, weird lighting, and interruptions that come with that. Instead of meeting the hot guy in the class doorway, have Mr. Hottie offer your gal a ride to her car in a crowded parking structure so he can get a space. Parking was the bane of my college experience, so I muted my parents’ warnings about getting into cars with strangers. Sound like a new adult risk-taker to you? Did you work your setting against your new adult’s concerns and social mindset? How about her work spaces and party places? Does your new adult’s living space reflect this transitory time of life? Does her new “home” force her to face things she thought she’d left behind with Mom and Dad? Do your setting choices expose deep truths about your characters and make them as comfortable or uncomfortable as you need them to be?
  • Confirm that you have new adult undertones: Does your NA protagonist have high expectations for herself that don’t always match reality? Is she experimental, does she take risks? Is she working on self-accountability? Is your character still assessing her Life Plan or has she settled into it? Have you challenged that commitment, putting the screws to her thumbs so that she truly examines the box she’s building for herself? Did you get in there and rock her stability? No fiction writer should let their character stand on solid ground for long—problems beget conflict and pressured choices, conflict and pressured choices beget further problems—but it’s especially true for your NA fiction because new adults are in such a hypersensitive, unstable state.

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter today’s “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway. NA, YA, Adult… any fiction WIP is okay. (And you’re still eligible for the Friday Full MS edit giveaway, too.) Good luck!


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  1. Just as Phil Collins said, “You can’t hurry love,” you also can’t hurry revisions. 🙂 Or, at least I can’t! I swear sometimes it has a mind of its own. I never could hurry it even if I wanted to.

  2. Congratulations to yesterday’s winner of the “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway! Today is the last giveaway. Tomorrow, the full manuscript edit giveaway. Remember, critique winners ARE eligible for the full ms edit. Good luck today!

  3. So very true – I thought the hard part was over when I finished my manuscript. I had no idea what I was in for, and I still have many refinements to go. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to attend to multiple rewrite items at once, for example, cleaning up some stylistic elements while also tightening up plot points. Any advice about that?

    • You could try printing up the ms and taking it–without your computer–to a place where all you can do is read and make notes on a list or in the margins about the plot changes you need to tweak. Then, in a new session now back at your computer, work through your checklist. This would have you jumping from change to change rather than scrolling through the ms from page 1 onward and being tempted to stop and fix sentences that catch your eye along the way.
      Hey, readers, want to share methods that work for you?

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s tempting to be jealous of those who pub 2-3 books a year when I can only write (and revise) one. But quality is more important than quantity, and I respect my (few) readers too much to throw slop at them.

    • I understand that jealousy/pressure you’re talking about. Do keep in mind, too, the other writers have different Life details — they have more writing time every day than you do, etc.

  5. I just read these fabulous words about revision from the wonderful John Green: “I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first drafts … so it doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just gonna delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating. I also like to remind myself of something my dad said in [response] to writers’ block: ‘Coal miners don’t get coal miners’ block.’” It’s from his website (http://johngreenbooks.com/ideas-questions/), but I saw it on Mental Floss http://mentalfloss.com/article/54511/14-quotes-about-writing-john-green

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