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The Four-Step Revision Method

Step 1 of Raymond Obstfeld's "4-Step Method" to revising your work.

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).

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 588

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a last poem.

The Differences in Writing a Memoir vs. a Novel

The Differences in Writing a Memoir vs. a Novel

Where fiction writing is about concealing emotional truth for interpretation, memoir is about exposing it for what it is. Writer Jenna Blum discusses the differences she experienced in writing a memoir vs. a novel.

17 Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

17 Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

When choosing your publishing journey, it's important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks in order to make the right decision for you and your work. Author Rick Lauber lays out 17 pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

Spooky Season

Scary Season

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write something that has to do with the scary season!

Parker, 10:26

Christopher Parker: On Learning to Let Go in the Publishing Process

Author Christopher Parker discusses how he celebrated small victories in writing his debut novel, The Lighthouse.


Writer's Digest November/December 2021 Cover Reveal

Revealing the November/December 2021 issue of Writer's Digest: Magical Writing. Featuring advice from R.F. Kuang, Alix E. Harrow, Maggie Stiefvater, Tobias Buckell, Ran Walker, and many more.

The Lane Report: Market Spotlight

The Lane Report: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at The Lane Report, the business publication of Kentucky.

Exercise vs. Exorcise (Grammar Rules)

Exercise vs. Exorcise (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between exercise and exorcise with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Your Story #115

Your Story #115

Write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.