The Four-Step Revision Method

Revising can be daunting. There’s so much to look for—pacing, characterization, plot, theme, style, etc. But don’t worry just yet. Novelist Raymond Obstfeld explains how to make the transition from those early drafts that lay down the basic story and characters to the final draft.

In the latest issue of Guide to Writing Fiction Today, Obstfeld explains his four-step method for revisions in detail. Here’s a sample:

Step 1: Structure

Goal: Develop a clear and compelling plot.

Trouble Spots: Too passive, talking-head characters; no plot buildup/anticlimactic action.

Remedy: Basically you’re looking to see that events are in the right order and that, if they are, the scene builds toward a satisfying climactic payoff.

The passive/talking heads scene occurs when characters are sitting around yammering back and forth without adding any tension to the scene. They’re called talking heads because what they’re saying seems removed from any sense of characterization.

To find out more about structure and the complete four-step revision method, pick up a copy of Guide to Writing Fiction Today ($6.50).

Raymond Obstfeld is the author of Fiction First Aid ($16.99, pb).

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