Revision Week Archive

This year’s Revision Week may be over, but you can still read all the insightful interviews! Below is an alphabetical list of every interview ever featured during a Revision Week, with an excerpt from each interview. Just click on a name to see the full Q&A!

Nathan Bransford, top publishing blogger and former literary agent-turned-author of the Jacob Wonderbar middle grade books: “I was a very hands-on agent. I always thought it was important to make sure the manuscript was as good as possible before going out to editors.”

Rachel Caine, New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of more than 30 novels and series: “With a book due every three months, I don’t have a lot of luxury to rework things—they need to be close to the target (very close!) on the first draft.There’s never a final draft for me, only the one you have to turn in because you’re out of time.”

Mark A. Clements, award-winning horror/suspense author, screenwriter, writing teacher, and ghostwriter: “I never share even slightly rough material and I don’t seek out advice on how to ‘fix’ something. I don’t believe in writing by committee.”

Larry Dane Brimner, award-winning author of 150 books for readers of all ages. “The number of drafts it takes to get any manuscript ‘right’ is directly related to the amount of time I’ve spent thinking about a project before I stand in front of my computer station to compose.”

Chanel Cleeton, writes contemporary romances, women’s fiction, and thriller: “At an absolute minimum, I go through four drafts before I send a book to my editor.”

Susan Stevens Crummel, award-winning author and co-author of nearly 20 picture books. “We feel that this is what makes our collaboration successful–it’s an organic process where the story and art evolve together, meshing to create a more cohesive product.”

Peter Economy, bestselling author and ghostwriter of more than 6o books. “It is extremely important that I capture my client’s voice and that he or she is comfortable with the style and happy with the book that results. If I haven’t accomplished that, then I have failed.”

Warren Fahy, best-selling author of science-based thrillers: “Wherever [my advance readers] stop reading a manuscript, I fix it so that nobody wants to stop there again. I pay attention to what they don’t say as much as to what they do say.”

Jean Ferris, award-winning author of nineteen young adult novels: “I tend to write what amounts to an expanded outline for the first draft, and each draft gets longer as I understand more and more what the book and its characters are about.”

Marie Force, New York Times bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances and series: “The last thing I do is read the manuscript on my Kindle, the way a reader would.”  

Marla Frazee, two-time Caldecott Honor-winning and best-selling picture book author/illustrator: “I don’t think of revising as revising. It’s more a question of, Are we getting somewhere?”

Laura Griffin, New York Times bestselling romance writer, with 11 acclaimed novels. “I always try to remember that no matter how compelling a plot is, the reader is really in it for the characters. So I try to make sure I focus plenty of attention on character arc so that the story will have an emotional punch.”

Denise Grover Swank, best-selling author of YA, NA, and novels for adults. “It’s not unusual for me to write a first draft and then cut one-third to half the book out and start over again.”

Bruce Hale, award-winning author/illustrator of nearly 30 books for kids. “When I can’t find anything else to tinker with, and I have that general feeling that if I mess with it much more, the entire souffle will collapse in a soggy heap — that’s when I know it’s the final draft.”

Matthew J. Kirby, award-winning author of five novels for young adults, including an installment in the bestselling Infinity Ring series. “My confidence in how the characters and scenes are working doesn’t seem tied in anyway to the number of times I’ve revised them, but to my general awareness of the story as a whole.”

Kathleen Krull, award-winning author of more than 100 books, especially picture books and biographies for young readers: “When I get to the point of taking out commas and putting them back in again, I feel ready to send it off.”

R.L. LaFevers, award-winning author of the 13 novels and series for young people: “There is a point where you aren’t necessarily making it better—just making it different. Or so I try to tell myself.”

Cynthia Leitich Smith, bestselling YA gothic novelist, picture book writer, short story writer, and popular children’s lit blogger: “Back when every novel I wrote was wholly new, I used to write a “discovery draft” wherein, after some prewriting, I plunged in and wrote a full story (with a beginning, middle, and end—say, 35,000 to 60,000 words) to get to know my protagonists, their goals and their world. When I was done, I would print it. Read it. Toss it. And delete the file.”

Joni Rodgers, best-selling novelist and ghostwriter: “[Ghostwriting] is the ultimate test of ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’ I listen, ask questions, and revamp until we find what feels right.” 

Pam Munoz Ryan, author of more than 30 books for young readers, Newbery Honor Book winner: “Book manuscripts always want more. Putting them to bed is like putting a toddler to bed. You tuck them in and think that’s it, yet they want one more kiss, a drink of water, a song, the blanket fluffed, a night light….”

Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver, and Theo Baker, bestselling chapter book collaborators: “[With collaborations] you have to be very flexible in your negotiations so both parties come away feeling ownership of the final draft, and also very sensitive not to make it a critique of your partner’s talents but a decision of what works best at any given moment in the manuscript.”

Jane Yolen has written over 300 books, mostly for young readers; won numerous awards; and been given six honorary doctorates in literature: “I am not a planner and plotter, so my novels come together in the latter stages of revisions. But they feel fresher to me for that.”

Salina Yoon, award-winning and bestselling author/illustrator of over 160 books for children: “Usually, it’s around the third draft of storyboarding (sketches and text) where I feel like it’s either there or it isn’t.”

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