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Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore

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Professional editor and author Elizabeth Lyon offers aspiring novelists the guidance and instruction they need to write and edit well-crafted and compelling stories that will stand out from the competition and attract the attention of agents and publishers, including: - Stand-out style techniques, from accessing an authentic voice to applying techniques of "wordsmithing" th Professional editor and author Elizabeth Lyon offers aspiring novelists the guidance and instruction they need to write and edit well-crafted and compelling stories that will stand out from the competition and attract the attention of agents and publishers, including: - Stand-out style techniques, from accessing an authentic voice to applying techniques of "wordsmithing" that transform prose - How to rewrite characterization for dimensionality, a universal need, and theme - Adjustment suggestions to match the prose style and structure of specific genres - Correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style - Strategies to strengthen story beginnings and endings - Methods for increasing plot stakes, creating movement, and adjusting pace for maximum suspense


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Professional editor and author Elizabeth Lyon offers aspiring novelists the guidance and instruction they need to write and edit well-crafted and compelling stories that will stand out from the competition and attract the attention of agents and publishers, including: - Stand-out style techniques, from accessing an authentic voice to applying techniques of "wordsmithing" th Professional editor and author Elizabeth Lyon offers aspiring novelists the guidance and instruction they need to write and edit well-crafted and compelling stories that will stand out from the competition and attract the attention of agents and publishers, including: - Stand-out style techniques, from accessing an authentic voice to applying techniques of "wordsmithing" that transform prose - How to rewrite characterization for dimensionality, a universal need, and theme - Adjustment suggestions to match the prose style and structure of specific genres - Correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style - Strategies to strengthen story beginnings and endings - Methods for increasing plot stakes, creating movement, and adjusting pace for maximum suspense

30 review for Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    This is my first choice (and then, her "A Writer's Guide to Fiction") for consulting "what I want/need to know" as I work on my MS revision. Also, whenever I take my writing with me travelling, this book comes with me! This is my first choice (and then, her "A Writer's Guide to Fiction") for consulting "what I want/need to know" as I work on my MS revision. Also, whenever I take my writing with me travelling, this book comes with me!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    If I could re-title this book, I'd call it Manuscript Makeover: Revision Checklists for Fiction Writers. Truly, the checklists at the ends of the chapters are the superstars here. The rest of it feels very textbooky, which does not make for an engaging cover-to-cover read. Each chapter offers descriptions of various elements of storytelling, reflects upon different approaches you may have taken, and notes possible advantages and disadvantages of each. Then follows a checklist summarizing all tho If I could re-title this book, I'd call it Manuscript Makeover: Revision Checklists for Fiction Writers. Truly, the checklists at the ends of the chapters are the superstars here. The rest of it feels very textbooky, which does not make for an engaging cover-to-cover read. Each chapter offers descriptions of various elements of storytelling, reflects upon different approaches you may have taken, and notes possible advantages and disadvantages of each. Then follows a checklist summarizing all those things. So, I think the word "techniques" in the title here is a bit deceiving. Considerations maybe, but techniques no. It doesn't offer exercises or anything other than the checklists as a way of looking at your draft. The beginning of each chapter also tells me I can go ahead and skip it if I'm confident I did okay with whatever it's covering. I thought I couldn't afford to ignore these? The checklists get high marks for being very thorough, so may be useful for devising a plan of attack. I suspect many folks will end up going to other writing books, however, to learn how to work through their draft's specific problems. As always with these things, your mileage may vary.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    A veritable goldmine of information for the writer at that very crucial next step, once he gets through the first draft: revision. Elizabeth Lyon takes us from "in the begining was the word" to "in the end you will have the edited m/s, the query letter and the synopsis". All the how-to's are very clearly laid out with good summary notes at the end of every chapter. I took one of my unpublished novellas through some of her recommended exercises and decidedly saw the uptick in its vibrance. I shall A veritable goldmine of information for the writer at that very crucial next step, once he gets through the first draft: revision. Elizabeth Lyon takes us from "in the begining was the word" to "in the end you will have the edited m/s, the query letter and the synopsis". All the how-to's are very clearly laid out with good summary notes at the end of every chapter. I took one of my unpublished novellas through some of her recommended exercises and decidedly saw the uptick in its vibrance. I shall be repeating this exercise with other pieces of writing from my "never published" and "never to be published" piles. The only downer with reading this book is that you begin to wonder if everything you have written before is crap. My suggestion for the writer working along with this guide is to take her manuscript through each of the chapter topics one at a time.So, on one go-around check for sentence compositions, in the next check for viewpoint inconsistencies, in the next look for timing and pace etc. Otherwise, revision a-la Lyon may become extremely frustrating. That said, reading this book only confirmed to me what a daunting mission it is to be a writer - a good one, that is. Probably an art never to be mastered.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nayad Monroe

    This book is SO USEFUL. I've read a lot of writing books. I like them. But most of them are more helpful for beginners than for people who have been writing for several years. This one, by an editor, gets into more detail than other writing books I've read, covering everything from style to structure; edits at story level and sentence level; ideas for enriching plots and characters; submission format; and also how to write a query letter and synopsis. It's a guide for revising existing work, but This book is SO USEFUL. I've read a lot of writing books. I like them. But most of them are more helpful for beginners than for people who have been writing for several years. This one, by an editor, gets into more detail than other writing books I've read, covering everything from style to structure; edits at story level and sentence level; ideas for enriching plots and characters; submission format; and also how to write a query letter and synopsis. It's a guide for revising existing work, but I believe it will be valuable for planning new stories and novels, as well. Thorough and well-written advice.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ferguson

    Couldn't wait to finish this book to write a review. "Manuscript Makeover" is simply the best book on fiction revision I have ever seen. Filled with practical tools to get to grips with all the challenges that exist in first drafts. Novelists would be wise to buy it immediately and keep it beside their keyboards. Just brilliant! Couldn't wait to finish this book to write a review. "Manuscript Makeover" is simply the best book on fiction revision I have ever seen. Filled with practical tools to get to grips with all the challenges that exist in first drafts. Novelists would be wise to buy it immediately and keep it beside their keyboards. Just brilliant!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Very good book with coherent and cogent examples and suggestions for writers of every level. The structure of this book is exemplary in terms of letting a reader know if the section is relevant and useful, allowing anyone to find the trouble spots in their manuscripts AND great suggestions and hints on how to untangle and fix those as well.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Anne

    4.5*s My copy of Manuscript Makeover is well-highlighted and flagged. As I read along, I made copious notes for revising my second and subsequent drafts of my current manuscript. I've read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, Revising Fiction, and Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for transforming your first draft into a finished novel. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses and I learned something from each book. But if I was to recommend just one book 4.5*s My copy of Manuscript Makeover is well-highlighted and flagged. As I read along, I made copious notes for revising my second and subsequent drafts of my current manuscript. I've read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, Revising Fiction, and Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for transforming your first draft into a finished novel. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses and I learned something from each book. But if I was to recommend just one book, it would be Manuscript Makeover.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly H. (Maybedog)

    Excellent book. Filled with good examples from a vast variety of real authors, from John Steinbeck to Danielle Steel to students work before it was published. The examples showed both what not to do as well as what to do. The book was structured really well and there were good exercises at the end of each chapter for those who look for that kind of thing. I really liked that there was a summary of each chapter at the end as well. For those chapters about things I feel I do well in my writing, I Excellent book. Filled with good examples from a vast variety of real authors, from John Steinbeck to Danielle Steel to students work before it was published. The examples showed both what not to do as well as what to do. The book was structured really well and there were good exercises at the end of each chapter for those who look for that kind of thing. I really liked that there was a summary of each chapter at the end as well. For those chapters about things I feel I do well in my writing, I was able to just read the summary and see if I missed anything (or was completely off base). There were some pet peeves I see in writing all the time that were addressed here, such as constantly changing POV. If you have that issue, please read this book! I highly recommend this for a newer writer. If you're having trouble getting published, I think this would really help a lot.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Blessy Mathew

    I picked up this writer’s craft book as a recommendation from a fellow writer. This will be an on going read. Lyons gives every writer practical techniques on how to approach revision and how to create a compelling story. She cites examples of what to do and what to avoid during the revision process. She discusses techniques to make a story compelling. She also suggests modeling the writing styles of award-winning authors. Her current knowledge on publishing trends is helpful to any writer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Edgar

    Lyon manages to be respectful of writers at the same time she challenges us to go beyond ordinary editing techniques. When the spelling mistakes are gone, and the bad grammar and word usage are corrected, the polishing begins. Written in a clear and authoritative style, Manuscript Makeover gave direction to my editing like no other book on my shelf. Probably the best book on writing I have purchased.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    WOW, WOW, WOW. This is an amazing book. I have read it and since it took me so long to read (so much to absorb), I am rereading some parts, maybe the whole thing. I give this book TEN STARS! I can hardly wait to share what I have learned with all my writer-friends. EVERYONE WHO WRITES SHOULD OWN THIS BOOK!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rita Webb

    Tremendously helpful book. It has a lot of information that other editing books contain, but it also has new information as well as a new perspective that gave me a better understanding on things I needed to learn.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ieva

    A good, straight to the point summary of all the basics of writing in one book. Helps out not just when revising but also when stuck in the middle of writing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    CJ

    I'm not sure how many times I've read this book... at least twice cover-to-cover. Awesome reference. I'm not sure how many times I've read this book... at least twice cover-to-cover. Awesome reference.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    This book was recommended to me some time ago and now I understand why. Manuscript Makeover is one of the most useful how-to editing guides I’ve ever read. Author Elizabeth Lyon addresses both the big picture aspects of editing a novel and excellent detailed strategies to improve things like character development, narrative, dialogue, and so forth. She even offers great tips on punctuation usage. I especially like the helpful checklist at the end of each chapter. The last section entitled ‘Market This book was recommended to me some time ago and now I understand why. Manuscript Makeover is one of the most useful how-to editing guides I’ve ever read. Author Elizabeth Lyon addresses both the big picture aspects of editing a novel and excellent detailed strategies to improve things like character development, narrative, dialogue, and so forth. She even offers great tips on punctuation usage. I especially like the helpful checklist at the end of each chapter. The last section entitled ‘Marketing’ is not about promoting and increasing visibility. It’s about properly preparing manuscripts for submission to publishers. She offers some really great tips on how to prepare a query and synopsis, which is crucial for those searching for an agent or traditional publisher. Whether you are a beginning writer or have been at it for some time, I encourage you to read this book. New ideas for improving your work are bound to happen.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    I rarely give five star ratings, but this book is just that good. It's not necessarily life-changing or . . . maybe it is, at least for this writer. As it's subtitle says, the techniques outlined are techniques that shouldn't be ignored, although they aren't new and you've probably encountered them in any number of writing books or classes. But, what Lyon gives you is a compact reference for improving writing, for deepening characterization, structure, plot, etc. She also touches on copy editing I rarely give five star ratings, but this book is just that good. It's not necessarily life-changing or . . . maybe it is, at least for this writer. As it's subtitle says, the techniques outlined are techniques that shouldn't be ignored, although they aren't new and you've probably encountered them in any number of writing books or classes. But, what Lyon gives you is a compact reference for improving writing, for deepening characterization, structure, plot, etc. She also touches on copy editing and marketing, because, as we know from Dr. Johnson, none but a blockhead writes for fun. Lyon suggests techniques such as "riff-writing" that I, at least, was unaware of. "Riff-writing" is a version of free writing directed at a particular sentence or paragraph in a finished draft of a work. It allows the writer to play, to give depth and breadth to a particular piece of writing. She also suggests common techniques such as imitating other writers to help "see" style, and to help loosen the inner editor and stave off the inner critic when drafting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    C.R. Sedore

    I highly enjoined reading this informative book. I believe every writer or published Author can benefit from this book. Revision is extremely important to improve your novel or short story. I used this book to up my level of editing to save me on editing for my current story. I want to build a story better then my last. Just remember your readers deserve that. If you can do something that cuts off the price of your editing then you need this book and others similar. I really benefited from the ch I highly enjoined reading this informative book. I believe every writer or published Author can benefit from this book. Revision is extremely important to improve your novel or short story. I used this book to up my level of editing to save me on editing for my current story. I want to build a story better then my last. Just remember your readers deserve that. If you can do something that cuts off the price of your editing then you need this book and others similar. I really benefited from the chapters on Time about writing in past present and future.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly [Come Hither Books]

    The part of this book I was ready for was invaluable, but a lot of it is for a level I don't think I'm ready for yet. This will be a book I need to read many times and take only a chapter or so at a time. But it showed me more places to grow and develop than any writing book I've read. Recommended for writers who are confident in beginning craft and ready for more. The part of this book I was ready for was invaluable, but a lot of it is for a level I don't think I'm ready for yet. This will be a book I need to read many times and take only a chapter or so at a time. But it showed me more places to grow and develop than any writing book I've read. Recommended for writers who are confident in beginning craft and ready for more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shirley

    "Revise your truth. Harvest your emotions. Catch fireflies." "Revise your truth. Harvest your emotions. Catch fireflies."

  20. 5 out of 5

    K.F. Silver

    I feel this book works best as a companion to other craft books. Specifically those on style and the more technical aspects of writing. While this is easy to read, and the author presents their ideas in a clear, concise way, I do feel this is a book to put aside until the writer has completed a manuscript they are willing to revise. Be that a novel, novella, or short story. As the title suggests, this is a book on revision. Not how to start a novel, or even a how-to on specific aspects of craft. A I feel this book works best as a companion to other craft books. Specifically those on style and the more technical aspects of writing. While this is easy to read, and the author presents their ideas in a clear, concise way, I do feel this is a book to put aside until the writer has completed a manuscript they are willing to revise. Be that a novel, novella, or short story. As the title suggests, this is a book on revision. Not how to start a novel, or even a how-to on specific aspects of craft. A word to the wise: there is some information within that is outdated. Specifically, I found, regarding fonts and query letters. Most of the information, however, is still pertinent to the modern writer looking to be traditionally published. Especially on the sections for narration. Good information, there. Good information all around.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Wow! I finished the first draft of my book and wanted some concrete advice on how best to revise it. This book has been just perfect! I found each of the chapters very readable, with excellent examples and lots of concise, but excellent advice. The gem is the checklists at the end of the chapters, which I have photocopied and am using to make it easier to refer to in the revision process. Without the chapter before each one, they would be hard to make full use of, but they do really encompass th Wow! I finished the first draft of my book and wanted some concrete advice on how best to revise it. This book has been just perfect! I found each of the chapters very readable, with excellent examples and lots of concise, but excellent advice. The gem is the checklists at the end of the chapters, which I have photocopied and am using to make it easier to refer to in the revision process. Without the chapter before each one, they would be hard to make full use of, but they do really encompass the essence of each. This book had so much more than I expected and summarized so much of what other writing books only touch on that I've been using parts of it even before finishing reading it. I know I will use this book for years to come. Definitely something a serious writer will want in their library.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This offered lots of good techniques for fiction writers and used many helpful and clear examples throughout. I'm giving it three starts for an unfair reason -- I had hoped that more of what was here would translate into non-fiction writing. But much of it really is about building narratives of particular types. So, while the sentence-level advice might hold true across contexts, there was less here that I felt like I could otherwise mobilize than I'd hoped. That said, if you are looking for som This offered lots of good techniques for fiction writers and used many helpful and clear examples throughout. I'm giving it three starts for an unfair reason -- I had hoped that more of what was here would translate into non-fiction writing. But much of it really is about building narratives of particular types. So, while the sentence-level advice might hold true across contexts, there was less here that I felt like I could otherwise mobilize than I'd hoped. That said, if you are looking for some good insights into fiction writing, I'd recommend this!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan Mills

    Perhaps a bit clunky in its very methodical process, but other than that, a very useful handbook for revising the first (or 2nd or 3rd) draft of a novel. The author goes thru just about every aspect of writing a story — point of view, character development, plot, etc etc — breaking it all down into manageable components. I also appreciate the summary points at the end of each chapter to use as later reference. In its entirety, it is a bit overwhelming, but it does give one a sense of what it ta Perhaps a bit clunky in its very methodical process, but other than that, a very useful handbook for revising the first (or 2nd or 3rd) draft of a novel. The author goes thru just about every aspect of writing a story — point of view, character development, plot, etc etc — breaking it all down into manageable components. I also appreciate the summary points at the end of each chapter to use as later reference. In its entirety, it is a bit overwhelming, but it does give one a sense of what it takes to produce a good piece of writing. Incredibly helpful for editing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zara West

    This is a power-packed book that lays out a detailed series of steps for revising your manuscript. I recommend it highly. I bought it as an e-book, but it would have been easier to use as a paperback. It is a book serious writers will return to again and again.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    This manual reviews some of the same revision techniques covered in other general books on writing but offers in depth guidance on how to do every type of revision. A useful guide to have on hand when revising.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Read the other 4- and 5-star reviews. They're much more eloquent and erudite than I would ever hope to be. Straight up, this book is a must-have for the serious fiction writer's library. Read it. Use it. 'Nuff said. Read the other 4- and 5-star reviews. They're much more eloquent and erudite than I would ever hope to be. Straight up, this book is a must-have for the serious fiction writer's library. Read it. Use it. 'Nuff said.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    Helpful on every single page. Relevant examples from all sorts of genres. Designed as a reference guide for easy referral. Unpretentious and kind. A great help for developing an editor’s instincts, while first protecting your creative sense of purpose.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    A section-by-section guide to improving your manuscript. The edition I read had out-of-date information (courier as a font to use when submitting) but the revisions techniques seemed tried and true. (Read as part of the Covid-let's-use-this-time-to-revise! project) A section-by-section guide to improving your manuscript. The edition I read had out-of-date information (courier as a font to use when submitting) but the revisions techniques seemed tried and true. (Read as part of the Covid-let's-use-this-time-to-revise! project)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Rubin

    Full of great writing technique, reminders of what all writers face, and much more. A book to keep and refer back to.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Abby Rose

    This book gave me the courage to tackle my 145k manuscript after several months of letting it gather dust! I highly recommend it

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