No matter how you got there --
Only now you've discovered
"When Even The Pros Crash And Burn While Rewriting Their Books,
On TV, in movies, in novels, and even on writer's weblogs, you see people who make a living from their writing laboring through their fifth or tenth draft of a novel, falling behind on their deadlines, struggling to figure out what went wrong, and more importantly, struggling with how to get it right.
And the funny things is, this is one place where popular fiction shows something the way it is.
Most writers, including most professional writers, do revisions like a cosmetic surgeon trapped in an ER.
They're doing their thing on a patient who isn't breathing, who has bled from everywhere, and whose heart has stopped...
...and they can't figure out why that nose job isn't bringing him back to life.
And honestly, when I got started, I flailed, too.
My name is Holly Lisle, and I'm a full-time, well-paid, well-reviewed, internationally published novelist. (18 years, 32 novels from major publishers, with more on the way.)
But I spent the seven years before I had a career (while I was an RN working mostly ER) trying to get a handle on revision, while I sent out short story after short story, and revised each draft and each project time and again, all the while garnering more than a hundred rejections and no acceptances.
Believe me, I KNOW how hard it is to get a revision right. I got it wrong so very many times.
It was when I switched from writing bad short stories to writing a bad first novel that I had a breakthrough.
Oh, not in sales. Everybody on the planet shot that first novel down.
But in revision, baby. I learned how to rock in revision.
I tore that first book apart, piece by piece, over and over and over, trying to figure out what was wrong with it, why it didn't work, how to make it work. In spite of the fact that it never sold, I learned an incredible amount from that particular brutal failure of fiction.
I learned so much, in fact that my next novel sold the first time out to the first place I sent it, one month after I mailed it out the door. (And the book won me an award for Best First Novel, too.)
I then had a steady run of about seven years where every single thing I wrote sold first time out. Runs like that don't last (unfortunately) but I have gone on to sell 32 novels to major publishers in the US and around the world, and I've never spent more than a few months on any revision.
It's not because I know how to write near-perfect first drafts, either. My first drafts are as mangled as everyone else's.
It's because I've learned the secrets of doing a good, clear, intentional revision, recognizing and saving what works, fixing what doesn't, and not screwing around for years on going back and doing it all over again and again.
What I do isn't magic.
Why, you're wondering, would anyone in their right mind want to spend eight weeks learning to do that?
And I reply:
"Maybe because YOU don't want to spend the seven years it took me to do a revision that worked at all...or the roughly fifteen years it took me to learn to do a GREAT revision."
Maybe YOU'D like to learn how to do a real revision that actually fixes your book (and every book you write after this one) in five months.
But I have to tell you, if there had been anything that could have given me a shortcut through that agonizing, frustrating, years-long process when I was starting out, I would have been after it like a drowning woman for air.
You need them.
And here's how you'll get them.
This is the most important (and frequently the most difficult) part of revision...and the majority of novelists never do it. Ever.
You cannot hit a target you cannot see. Which is why even big names in fiction waste years slogging through multiple revisions. They never bother to create the target they want to hit...so they don't hit it. It really is that simple.
You, however, are going to discover:
"Why" is the most important question you can as as a writer...and as a human being. You'll be asking this question a lot in this course, and you'll be learning to answer it, too.
There are three kinds. Most writers are familiar with the second kind, but have no clue about the first and the third kinds. You'll learn to find, identify, and USE:
Your promises are the heart and soul of your book---why you wrote it, why it matters, why anyone else should care. Get this right, understand THIS, and not just everything you revise now, but everything you write in the future, will start making sense and falling into place.
Get this right, and you can make every book you write better than the one before.
Some writers never get the hang of scenes, or learn the easy rhythm of conflict, twist, and the interplay of characters.
But you'll learn how to break down what you've written to diagnose where your story starts going wrong:
You learn to diagnose:
Plot moves your characters through your story in an entertaining, surprising, and comprehensible fashion. Or at least is does when everything goes right.
In first drafts, "everything" never goes right.
So you'll learn to identify and diagnose:
Writers frequently mistake conflict for argument (which, unless you have a spectacular "reason why" for it, is the least interesting kind of conflict it's humanly possible to write). Writers also frequently forget to include any sort of conflict whatsoever in their scenes.
You're going to to learn how to determine:
Writers don't have the constraints of movie-makers---mostly this is good, but when you get to character creation, the unlimited writing budget allows the writer to hire every out-of-work character who comes traipsing across the transom of his mind. This is not good fiction.
So you're going to learn to dissect the following:
This drives me nuts. REALLY nuts. SF and fantasy writers get it. Historical novelists get it. But everybody else seems to think that any little scraps of world you find lying around are good enough to toss into your world as background.
The story's world matters, whether your main character never gets off his front porch during the entire novel, or whether he spends the book leaping from galaxy to galaxy, and whether you're writing mainstream, literary, romance, mystery...or anything else.
And this week you're going to learn how to diagnose:
No matter what you might have thought, worlds in fiction don't just lie around doing nothing. Done well, they're active participants in making your story work.
While you were writing, you may have considered Story and Theme. You may not have. Most writers, after all, give them only cursory attention.
But Story and Theme are what pull everything else together. They refine your target, illuminate the priorities in your promises, and spotlight every Scene, Plot, Conflict, Character and World issue your story has.
You're going to learn how to diagnose what you have:
If you're thinking, "Ah, now we get to page one, line one, and we start editing," think again.
You're going to find out:
This is where you'll learn to take the broken, mangled, or even nonexistent story and theme you discovered back in Week Eight and turn them into something whole and good. Here's where you give yourself what you want, building it from pieces of what you currently have.
You will write:
Earlier, you identified which characters were weak and which were strong, which were cast well and which had the wrong roles. But as you worked through later lessons and learned more about what your story could be, your ideas will have changed and improved.
This week, you will decide:
Here's where you'll take every flawed scene and every misconceived plot and subplot...and you fix them.
You're going to learn (then put into action) the following:
This is where you make sure you don't leave any threads hanging, but it's also where you make sure that every thread you're running belongs in the story and matters on several different levels.
This week, you'll learn and master the basics of controlling the timeline of your story events.
Complex time moves beyond the range of when events happen in the story, focusing instead on playing with the reader's comprehension of time out of story.
You will learn and put into practice the How, When, and WHY of:
Moving on, in...
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."
If you are inconsistent anywhere in your story, your readers will feed you to the lions and cheer while you scream.
So this week, you are going to skip the lions AND the screaming, and make your novel consistent in your development and presentation of:
All your work, effort, diagnosis, planning and rethinking culminates at last in the moment you've been waiting for.
Even if you've never made it through a revision before, you'll have every tool you need to make it through this one. AND get out the other end with a better book than you started with---one where all the stuff you love is still there, and all the stuff you hated now works.
And once you've finished your Rough Cut, you'll move on to the third stage of revision.
Consider...THIS is the place where almost every writer begins almost every revision. Can you see why things don't work out for them?
This is how writers can do five or ten or twenty revisions on their novels, or spend YEARS, not months, struggling with the details, and still end up with a books they hate!
But even when it's time to line-edit, not all line-editing is created equal.
This is where writers suddenly start obsessing about commas. Wrong focus. Commas do matter, but not as much as you think.
So you'll learn commas...but you'll also learn the much more important subjects:
Next, you'll move on to...
This week, you'll dig into:
With that behind you, you'll get into...
You're nearing the finish line, and doing your final handwritten changes.
This week, you will work your way through testing and strengthening:
And with that, your write-in is done.
Now all that remains for this revision is...
This is the last step before you send out query letters to editors and agents. And it's a big step, with plenty of its own surprises still in store. (Simple typing rarely enters into the equation, actually.)
So what you'll learn this week is:
And officially, that should be the whole course. But once you know how to do a revision well, your life will be better if you learn how to do "well" faster.
I can revise a 100,000 word novel to publishable quality in about a month...and I only do ONE revision.
I still do EVERYTHING you've learned in this course. But I've learned over the years how to streamline the process.
So now that you have the skills, in this final lesson you'll learn:
You'll get one written lesson in PDF format delivered to your classroom every week.
But you'll also receive worksheets, and demos in which I show you how to use the worksheets while I revise a first novel written by a new writer.
In these demos, I'll SHOW you what various mistakes look like on the page, because it's easier to see someone else's mistakes than your own.
Along with the lessons, worksheets, and demos, you'll have access to both topical lesson discussions and free-ranging student discussions in the HTRYN Writers' Bootcamp. (Our private, members-only community.)
And if you want, you can join a small private workgroup in which you'll be able to brainstorm your way through your revision with other students who are working their way through this same course, and facing all the same problems you are.
There are some other neat little extras, but I'll leave those for you to discover as you go through the course.
Relax. You don't have to do a lesson a week. The course is entirely self-paced.
You can take as long as you'd like to finish each lesson---every lesson you pay for will be permanently available to you, even if you drop the course partway through.
And once you complete payment, you'll have permanent access to the course, ALL course updates, and the community. Stay as long as you like. I have a wonderful bunch of writers in Boot Camp.
Don't take this course if:
And I'll guarantee that.
There may not be any guarantees in publishing, after all...
But I'm not publishing.
I'm where you want to be, doing what you want to do, making a living at it for eighteen years now---and I'm happy to show you how I got here, and what you have to do to get here, too.
Universities charge thousands of dollars for MFAs---but I have students who have MFAs. I teach what universities don't. (I also have students who have published novels, and who are professional journalists, and professional screenwriters, and have all sort of other writing-related jobs).
This isn't a rehash of everything you've already read about revision.
This is MY process. I figured it out on my own, over years of trial and error---this is the system I've used to revise 32 of my novels (and counting) to the point that they sold to major US publishers, as well as other publishers around the world, to be translated into a multitude of languages.
By the way, I don't have an MFA, or any other writing degree. And you don't need one, either.
You just need $49.95 a month for five months. That breaks down to $11.35 a lesson.
Oh, one more thing...
When Your Editor
If you've ever considered writing a series,
You're About To Learn
So now you simply have to decide.
Do you want to be like that cosmetic surgeon who's trying to save a dying guy by doing a nose job?
How To Revise Your Novel
You will receive your first lesson instantly, even if it's 2:00 AM.
Every effort has been made to accurately represent this product and its potential. Please remember that each individual's success depends on his or her background, dedication, desire and motivation. As with any publishing endeavor, there is no guarantee that you will achieve publication.
You can be like all those writers out there floundering around on their dozenth revision.
Or you can learn to do it once, and learn to do it right. Be the skilled ER trauma doc for your novel.
You can do this.
P.S. The course sells as a five-month subscription for $49.95/mon. and I guarantee your satisfaction. You'll be able to quit at any time. If you quit at any time before the end of the fourth month, I'll refund you for the lesson that made you decide to quit, plus the pro rata remainder for any lessons for the month that you have not yet received.
You CAN create the book you want from the book you have. Start today.
Creator, How To Revise Your Novel
Winner of the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel in 1993
Dig Deeper To Find What Can Be BETTER
"The course is incredible. I had high expectations coming into HTRYN after HTTS, yet you still managed to blow me away. I've written a dozen novels, over 30 novellas, and countless short stories -- but until HTRYN, I only ever made superficial changes during the revision process, then wondered why I was always unsatisfied with the end result. You've shown me how to look at my story with fresh eyes, how to go deep and see beyond the line edits to the heart of the manuscript.
I'm so appreciative of all the knowledge you share. :-)"
-- Lacey Savage professional novelist
"I can see how ripping this apart is going to make my story so much...more. Every step shows me new insights into the book I want to write, and how I'm going to get there. This is the difference between someone telling me that I need to be traveling west and being handed a roadmap to California (with all the clean restrooms marked). : ) HTRYN is amazing."
Find The Vital Importance Of Setting
"...That's when I realized that I have used 33 sets for 50 scenes.
*head desk* I never truly grounded my reader in my world. I mean, I KNOW why this tale had to be set in this place, but I never got that across, and my story is weaker for it.
So...while I might once have been gnashing my teeth while I waited for my hated printer to s-l-o-w-l-y crank out 99 pages, you can bet I will instead be thinking about how to fix the problem I found before I ever started the lesson...and I bet I never make this particular little mess again!"
Understand What Makes Your Book Tick
"I've known for a long time that there was something wrong with my first novel, [title removed], and that it had to do with its overall structure. I just couldn't see what it was.
Now, every single lesson enlightens me further. I see scenes that don't belong, or that don't have all the elements of scenes. I see promises I didn't intend to make but did, and too much emphasis on some things for their weight. I see POV characters for scenes where someone else has all the action. I see sooo much, and I'm just getting started on Lesson 4!
Holly, I can't thank you enough. This is exactly the course I've been needing for the last few years! I know I'll be finding lots of other problems with my novel, but I can hardly wait! At last, a chance to make it right!"
Find Fixes for Previously Vague Problems
"But, most of all, what I can now see, is that if I add more detail to the main characters the readers will care for them as much as I do.
This is mind blowing. I can't thank Holly enough, but thank you Holly. The course was worth just this lesson."
Why You Write MATTERS
"For me, that evolution relates to the question about what drives the author to write the story. I think that I've danced around this particular question, to some degree, all along (was I embarrassed to be honest about it?). But I can see that this drive will operate like the Shadow--it's going to have impact on the story in an unconscious way, which can be out of control, all over the place, etc.--until I take it in hand and be fully responsible for it, honor it. Working consciously with it is far more powerful.
"Thanks, Holly--it's a grand adventure to take your courses!"
Know WHY You Wrote It Right
"I have read the materials about promises, and applied them to that story. It was an absolute revelation! I was so happy to see that in most places my intuition was right. I was happy to be able to explain it using Holly's text, the details, the scale, the reason behind it.
"I know it will be harder when I apply this to my novel, but it feels so right, I know it will work.
"So much joy,
thank you Holly!"
-- Nina Brown
"I just started my 1B worksheets last night - only had time for 2 pages of my ms after getting everything organized, and got an epiphany right on the first page. Before last night, I loved my opening paragraph. I still love the scene, but reading it with the character worksheet questions in mind made me realize almost immediately that it's not where the story needs to start. Beta readers all loved the first paragraph, but said there was "something" keeping them from actually liking my main character (throughout). I hadn't been able to grasp that the character problem started with that paragraph everyone loved.
"The worksheet asking whether my character added to or detracted from the story was the catalyst I needed. In that particular scene, my main character, the one people are supposed to be rooting for, actually *detracts* from the story. She's unlikable there, for reasons I was actually able to identify and write down on the worksheet. And that led me to ideas on how to fix her.
This is exactly why I signed up for this course - and just this one little victory has me excited to keep going, and see what will be revealed next."
I can't promise that you'll get results from this course, simply because I can't guarantee that when you get the course, you'll actually sit down and do the work.
The majority of people who take courses don't even open the lessons. Of the remainder, most just read the lessons.
You will not learn to write by reading. You can only learn to write by writing.
If you do the work, I guarantee you'll get results.
See my guarantee below.
THE MOON & SUN SERIES
The Ruby Key
The Silver Door
THE WORLD OF KORRE
Talyn: A Novel of Korre
Hawkspar: A Novel of Korre
ROMANTIC SUSPENSE NOVELS
I See You
Last Girl Dancing
THE WORLD GATES
Memory of Fire
The Wreck of Heaven
Gods Old and Dark
THE SECRET TEXTS
Diplomacy of Wolves
Vengeance of Dragons
Courage of Falcons
Vincalis the Agitator
Fire in the Mist
Bones of the Past
Mind of the Magic
Glenraven; (with Marion Zimmer Bradley)
In The Rift: Glenraven II ; (with Marion Zimmer Bradley)
DEVIL'S POINT NOVELS
Sympathy for the Devil
The Devil and Dan Cooley (with Walter Spence)
Hell on High;
(with Ted Nolan)
CADENCE DRAKE NOVELS
Hunting the Corrigan's Blood
When the Bough Breaks; (with Mercedes Lackey)
Mall, Mayhem and Magic; (with Chris Guin)
The Rose Sea;
BARD'S TALE NOVELS
Curse of the Black Heron
Thunder of the Captains (with Aaron Allston)
Wrath of the Princes
(with Aaron Allston)
STORIES IN COLLECTIONS
"Last Thorsday Night,"
The Mammoth Book Of Time-Travel Romance
"Light Through Fog,"
The Mammoth Book Of Paranormal Romance
"Knight and the Enemy," The Enchanter Reborn
Chicks in Chainmail
"A Few Good Men,"
Women at War
How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School For Writers
How To Write Page-Turning Scenes
How to Find Your Writing Discipline
21 Ways to Get Yourself Writing When Your Life Has Just Exploded
How To Beat Writer's Block (And Have Fun Writing from Now On)
Create A Plot Clinic
Create A Culture Clinic
Create A Language Clinic
Create A Character Clinic
Mugging the Muse: Writing Ficton for Love AND Money