Petite ReviMo November with Carrie Finison and a Giveaway!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Welcome revisers!! The amazing Carrie Finison is our guest blogger for today with a post full of writing truth! Carrie has kindly offered to do a giveaway, so comment on this post (before midnight Monday Nov 16th) and you'll be entered to win a picture book critique (rhyming or prose, under 1000 words). Welcome Carrie!

The Seven Stages of Revision
by Carrie Finison 


I did something scary recently. (Writer scary, that is.) After a great critique with an editor I met at a conference, I cracked open a manuscript I haven’t worked on in two years.

Happily, she didn’t say it was terrible, or awful. It’s a good story. But could it be better? I decided it could. Mind you, it took me a while to come around to that decision. Getting a tough critique can spark something in me that is akin to grief. It’s grief for the loss of that dream version of the story – the one where it’s perfect just as it is, and the editor raves about it and offers me a contract on the spot. Letting go of that rosy vision and facing the tough reality is difficult.

Like grief, revision is something that must be worked through, and each stage comes with its own characteristics.


Stage 1: Shock or Disbelief

What? My story doesn’t hang together? My characters aren’t appealing? My prose isn’t perfect? My plot lacks surprise? That can’t be right!

Stage 2: Denial
Clearly, Ms. Fancy-Pants New York editor has no idea what she’s talking about. She must not have read my story carefully. She probably doesn’t work in this genre. What does she know?

Stage 3: Anger
I’m not going to do it! I’m not going to make any changes. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it, period, the end! Someone else will probably love it just the way it is.

Stage 4: Bargaining
Maybe if I just change this one little thing, the whole story will work much better and I’ll be done revising.
Stage 5: Depression
She’s right. This story stinks. All my stories stink, and I won’t be able to sell any of them ever. Might as well give up this writing thing.

Stage 6: Reconstruction

She might have a point.

OK, I can see that this character’s choices aren’t making much sense. I’ll try one of the things she suggested and see how it works….

Hey, that actually does make more sense. And that gives me a great idea for an even better ending.

Stage 7: Acceptance and Hope
This revision stuff is hard work, but it’s actually kind of fun. My story is much stronger now. I can’t wait to send this to my critique group and see what they think!

Does this seem familiar?

For me, getting out of Stage 5 and into Stage 6 is the hardest part. I find that it works best to sidle up to a major revision, rather than trying to take it head on. For days, or weeks, I will collect ideas that I think might contribute to a stronger story. These might be suggestions from critique partners, new plot points to consider, words or phrases I’d like to include, or some way to twist one of the story elements into something else. When I finally do sit down to revise, I’m not starting from scratch. I also make sure I have coffee or tea and some baked goods on hand. There’s not much that can’t be made better by a cup of tea and a nice scone.

It takes a lot of mental energy to produce a good revision, one that goes deep and makes the story stronger, tighter, and better than ever before. But when you come through to the other side…it’s worth it!
So very true. Thank you Carrie!


Carrie Finison began her literary career at the age of seven with an idea, a box of markers, and her father’s typewriter. Some of her more recent work has appeared in Babybug, Ladybug, Highlights and High Five magazines, and in 2014 she won the SCBWI Barbara Karlin grant for picture book writing. In addition, she writes and develops content for educational publishers. Find her at