Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SRS Wednesday Whip Tip: Darcy Pattison

For our second Wednesday Whip Tip, Cuppa Jolie is thrilled to welcome Darcy Pattison!

And don't miss Brent Hartinger's tip over at Holly's blog.

Darcy Pattison is the author of four picture books and one middle grade novel that have been recognized for excellence by starred reviews, Book of the Year awards, state award lists and more.

Welcome, Darcy!

You seem to have a passion – or at least a great interest – in revision given that it’s your blog focus, your revision retreats are hugely popular, and you’ve written a book to guide writers through the process. What is it about revision that revs your writerly engine?

For 12 years, I was the conference director for the Arkansas SCBWI spring conference and every year, someone one would come up and hold out a thick manuscript and ask if I could read it for them and tell them how to get it published. Well, no. I couldn’t do that. But I saw a passion and hope in the eyes of each writer and I wanted to help. I knew that the only thing that would ultimately help was a deep experience with revision.
Over a period of eight years, I led retreats and slowly developed the workbook which became Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise. I never intended to publish it, but it’s been a great way to bring the process to a wider audience.

On my blog, Revision Notes, I keep thinking I'll run out of revision topics, but everything we do as writers comes back to revision.

How cool that you are joining in the Smackdown with the rest of us. Tell us a little about your current revision project.

Revision is personally hard and I fight against the process all the time. But I know, it’s the only way to develop stories to a publishable level. Like everyone else, I have passion and hope for my own stories.

Right now, I’m wrestling with a novel that has been long in process. I had written the opening chapters in a different sort of omniscient voice and it has been Smacked Down by those who read and/or considered it. I’m revising the opening 20 pages to be more immediate and active, and while I’m at it, I’ll give the rest of the story a fast run through. I’m hoping this revision will be relatively fast and I can also work in a second revision this summer. It’s a new story, with only a first draft done and I’m actually pretty pleased with that draft; but it needs extensive work on plot and character.

I guess the one thing I really want to say to the Smackdown Crew is that revisions are emotionally hard. My DH has been amazed at my passionate outbursts. You know the ones: how could that reader say this about my story; obviously, this reader didn’t read the whole thing or they’d understand and not ask such ridiculous questions; you want me to do what?

I’m fighting the process hard; but I’m not abandoning the process. I’m sticking it out – she says dramatically, throwing back her face and shielding her delicate skin from the sear of criticism. To say that I dislike drama queens is an understatement; yet, when I go through revisions, I become the most melodramatic drama queen in the nation. It’s hard. But I’m there.

For an amazing revision tool, Darcy shares this exercise:
To see the overall structure of your novel, try the Shrunken Manuscript.

Darcy's Novel Revision Retreats are fantastic. So if you have the chance...
Upcoming Novel Revision Retreats ( 16-19 Northern California SCBWI Novel Revision Retreat (One spot available) 11-13 New Orleans SCBWI (Still has a few openings.)

2010April 30-May 2 Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI, Sun Valley, IdahoNovember, Exact date TBA, Brazos Valley/Texas SCBWI

Thank you, Darcy! And to all you smackdowners, Darcy's blog/website is filled with tips and wonderful won't want to miss it!


Lisa said...

Can't wait to check out the Shrunken Manuscript tool.

Thanks for the interview - good to know that EVERYONE struggles with revisions. I'm just now gearing up for this week, and so far my only goal is to set a new goal and commit to it on my blog by the end of today! Any kicks in the pants welcome at

Hope everyone's going strong!

Vivian Mahoney said...

I have to admit, I'm a lurker on Darcy's blog, so it's cool to see her here! Thanks so much for all your wonderful tips.

holly cupala said...

I am a regular at Darcy's blog! Analysis Paralysis? She's got something for it. How on earth to tackle too many characters, or a character's emotional arc? She's got you covered. We LOVE Darcy.

Michèle Griskey said...

I have your book, and it's amazingly helpful. I used the shrunken manuscript technique recently and loved the results.
Great stuff!

BJW said...

Gotta find that book. Thanks Jolie and Darcy!