Friday, January 4, 2013

Finding Your Revision Zen: Amanda Bonilla

Revision Strategies

The first draft is finished. Your chest swells with a sense of accomplishment. You’ve let your baby rest for a while so it’s nice and fresh when you open the word document to begin revisions. You begin to read, confident that your fist draft is tight and clean. And then, like that moment in a horror movie when you realize that the killer is standing right behind the girl in the attic, panic floods your bloodstream and you try not to freak out.

Revisions can be stressful. I can be uptight when I’m tackling revisions or edits and it usually takes me a day to settle into the work I’m doing and put my panic and worry on the back burner. Revisions are what make the story shine. They’re the little bits and pieces that writers forget about as they’re cranking out a first draft. Revisions are the glue that binds a story and makes it solid. And as long as you remember that, cutting and adding to your baby won’t seem quite as scary. So here are a few tips to help you find your revision Zen:

1)      Go into revisions with a positive attitude. Personally, I find staring at page 1 of 356 to be a little intimidating, especially when you know there are some painful revisions on the horizon. But before you hyperventilate or hit that bottle of mascato that’s waiting for you in fridge, remind yourself that every coma added, or every passive sentence erased is going to make your manuscript better. Don’t be intimidated by the seemingly endless pages. Just tackle revisions like you’d eat an elephant: one bite at a time.   
2)      Be willing to cut. There are going to be scenes that don’t work, plot points that need to be adjusted, world building that requires a tweak or two, and characters that need a dialog makeover. If you keep an open mind and acknowledge that cutting some of your darlings—yes even that little gem of a sentence that totally made you LOL—is in the best interest of a strong manuscript, you’ll come out of the process with a lean, mean, ready to submit story machine.
3)      Accept constructive criticism with grace. One of the first things writers learn is that thick skin is essential. Critique, whether it comes from beta readers, crit partners, or editors can be tough to digest. Maybe your editor wants an entire scene scrapped and re-written because it doesn’t mesh with the story. Or maybe your crit partner is annoyed every time you use the word facetious in your story. Critique can make you want to curl up in the fetal position, or rush back to the fridge for that mascato you promised yourself you wouldn’t open when you started revisions. Either way, if you realize that critique is a tool to help you improve as a writer—as well as realize that a critique is an opinion and nothing more—you’ll fly through revisions with an open mind. And not only will your newly polished story shine, you’ll come out of the process feeling refreshed rather than stressed. Besides, you know you want to save that wine for a special occasion. ;)

How do you tackle revisions? What are your go-to tactics for a stress-free editing process?

Amanda Bonilla lives in rural Idaho with her husband and two kids. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves the outdoors, black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.

You can find her around the web at:

Her website
Amazon Author Page

Be sure to check out her amazing Shaede Assassin novels (Shaedes of Gray, Blood Before Sunrise, When Shadows Call (novella), and the upcoming Crave the Darkness)!!


Shaedes of Gray - Amazon; B&N; Books a Million

In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind-an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.
When Darian's next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she's taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished...

Blood Before Sunrise - Amazon; B&N; Books a Million
“She needed a bargaining chip and this was it. Raif’s daughter’s life for hers. And he knew damn good and well I was right. Just like he’d assured me the night I’d killed Azriel, this was far from over. His daughter was alive. I knew it. And I was going to find her.” 

For months, Darian and her Shaede guardian, Raif, have searched for the Oracle who attempted to overthrow the Shaede Nation—and kill Darian in the bargain. But now that they’ve finally found the half-crazed Oracle, they are granted a possibility too painful for Raif to imagine and too enticing for Darian to ignore. 

Darian is determined to reunite Raif and the daughter he thought was dead, but her mission quickly proves dangerous when her lover, Tyler, is almost killed. And when a brooding and mysterious Fae warrior offers his guidance—at an extraordinary price—Darian finds herself willing to risk everything. As her single-minded hunt turns into an obsession, and she and Tyler grow further apart, Darian finds herself caught between the man she loves like a brother and the man whose love she can’t live without.…

When Shadows Call - Amazon; B&N
An exciting prequel to Amanda Bonilla’s Shaede Assassin series. 

The envy of 1900s society, Darian is the rich, beautiful wife of a prominent Californian doctor—but her life is far from perfect. For years, Darian has suffered at the hand of her cruel husband and yearned for an escape—one that she knows to be all but impossible. 

But when an enigmatic stranger comes to call, Darian finds herself charmed by his seductive smile and the inexplicable connection she feels. And when he makes her a thrilling—yet frightening—proposition, Darian must decide if she’s strong enough to abandon the mortal world she knows and answer the shadow’s call…

Crave the Darkness (available for pre-order) - Amazon; B&N; Books a Million
Nothing comes easy for Darian. Her heightened powers make her indispensable to the Shaede Nation, but dangerous missions have driven her lover, Tyler, to his breaking point. Darian must salvage their bond, but a new assignment to protect Anya—a fellow Shaede and the first of their kind to become pregnant in centuries—stands in the way.
It doesn’t help that the two Shaedes are longtime rivals and share nothing besides mutual hatred. But when it becomes clear that someone—or something—is bent on destroying the expectant mother and her unborn child, Darian must put her feelings aside and track down Anya’s would-be assassin.
As she probes into Anya’s past, Darian digs up long-buried secrets—and a startling connection between Tyler and the mission that could destroy everything between them.…


  1. I love this. I definitely need more zen in my life LOL I think #2 is particularly important. It's one I know a lot of people struggle with and one that took me a while to get a handle on. Now I am a cutting pro :D

  2. Great advice. And your books sound great, too. ;-)

  3. You nailed the way I feel about revision when you used the eating an elephant metaphor. So intimidating. I'm definitely going to have to work on #1: positive attitude. Great post! Thank you! And your books look amazing!

  4. I think positivity is the hardest part! By the time I get to revision I'm so anxious to be done--and frankly, sometimes just plain sick of my characters and needing some space!--that it's hard to stay positive. But you make an excellent point about the importance of positivity.

  5. I think the approach with a positive attitude part is the key. I never noticed before, but I do tend to go into revision with a very I Don't Wanna attitude and, you're right, it's not making it any easier. Thanks for this.


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