Matt de la Pena’s Rules for Revision

Yesterday, Matt visited the 10th graders at CHAH for a workshop on revision. Here are some of his tips:

1. Start the story where it really starts. Look at your first few lines and ask: is this where the action starts, or am I warming up to it?

2. The language should be as good as the story itself. Go through your story line by line and revise each until it feels good, rhythmic. Matt revised each line “about 20 times” before his novel We Were Here was finally finished.

3. Slow down during the good parts. Think about telling a friend a particularly juicy story; when you get to the best parts you slow down, you exaggerate the details, you draw out your language just a bit more. Make sure your writing does the same thing.

4. Look at the world through the character’s eyes. What would an artist notice that someone else wouldn’t? What would a loner pick up on? Let your character’s perspective drive the description.

5. Take risks in your endings. “I challenge you to be strange.”


2 thoughts on “Matt de la Pena’s Rules for Revision

  1. Pingback: Become a BtB Writing Mentor! – Behind the Book

  2. Pingback: Sneak Peek! New High School Short Stories – Behind the Book

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