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Hello, writers. Since I find myself deep in revision-land again-- arse deep, in fact, in transom alligators-- I'm going to talk about revising again.

Yes, I talk about revising a lot. But that's because I spend 90% of my writing time revising.

So about a month ago I sent my current work in progress to my agent. She read it. She weighed it, and found it wanting. There was too much going on, and it wasn't always clear what was happening. In other words, I'd failed to live up to my cardinal rule:

Give the reader a break.

So now I'm revising again. I'm taking out each chapter, putting it in its own file, and then looking at each scene individually and asking myself

- Is it clear what's going on?
- Does the scene contribute toward the eventual climax of the plot (and/or a subplot)?
- Do I need to crank up the tension in the scene?
- Have I engaged at least three senses?
- Are the characters acting in character?
- Is it really clear what's going?
- As in crystal clear?

If necessary, I take each scene out and put it into its own file, too.

(Whenever I take out a chapter or scene and put it into its own file, I do a word count and post it at the top. Usually my goal is to end up with nearly the same number of words in the scene after revision as before... or fewer.)

Anyway, that's where I'm at now. I'm grateful to beta readers who tell me they don't understand what's going on, because that tells me what I need to clarify.

Tonight's challenge is to make it all clear. Below is a scene (not from my WIP). It is unclear what's going on. Rewrite it making it crystal clear what's happening. Also, if possible, crank up the tension a bit.
She turned to the man beside her. “Are we going in here?”
“What, on a day like this?” he asked.
“Good point.” She reached for another onion. “The onions might not last as it is.”
He shot her an annoyed look, the look of a man who had had to put up with the whole onion thing for far too long.
She sighed. It was really a question of what she had put up with. “We'd never finish by sunset anyway. And you know what that would mean.”
“Too right,” he said.
The selection currently stands at 95 words. Try not to go above 150.

Or, for a really challengy challenge, try not to go above 100. (You can delete as well as add, of course.)

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