Techniques of Revision Used by Cheryl Klein (TRUCKs) from Second Sight
TRUCK #1: Write out the story of your book in one sentence.
Thirteen-year-old Gaudiloquence must use her gift of storytelling to recover the magical fire stolen from her village and revive her loved ones who have been frozen.
Wow, that sounds long and awkward.
TRUCK #2: List the first ten meaningful things your protagonist says or does.
1. She was narrating again.
-The first scene opens with the heroine narrating a story to herself as she acts it out. It shows not just that she has an active imagination but that she’s been exercising it her whole life.
2. Her breath caught in her chest and she stood as still as she was able…”Please do not run away, please please please do not run away,” she whispered [to the fox]. “I promise I will not hurt you.”
-Shows a reverence for that which she considers special, important, sacred, etc.
3. It was [her] favorite place, and she came here almost every day, speaking to it as if it were a sentient being. To the story fire, she gave all her own stories, the account of her days, her hopes and fears, pretty songs and made-up words.
-Not everyone would do this sort of thing, and the relationship she has to this magical fire is stronger than those of other people in her village.
4. “You can’t do this to me anymore, you know. As of tomorrow, I am officially a woman, not your baby sister.” […] I hate you so much I can’t see straight,” she muttered, trying to tie his bootlaces to each other so he would trip.
-Shows that she sees herself as an adult, even though other people might not. Plus, a teasingly antagonistic relationship with her big brother humanizes her and makes her more relatable.
5. [Talks with her grandparents about adulthood, yet she will always be their little girl.]
6. [Reassures her best friend who fears losing part of herself when they lose their old names in being given their new adult names] “Your name describes what you are—the third of three sisters—but it is not who you are. Who you are is the girl who loves bluebells and horses and songs about silver and gold. The girl who once rescued a turtle who was trapped on its back and stuck in the mud underneath the bridge. The girl who, when she gets picked on by her sisters, dreams of running away and building a little cottage on the beach. The girl who wants to be a teacher someday. The girl who sings like a flute.”
-Shows compassion, attention to detail, and appreciation for the unique gifts of others.
7. The twenty Innominate thirteen-year-olds chased, teased, screeched, and played with all their might, squeezing every last drop of fun out of their last night of childhood until either their breath or their legs gave out.
-More theme! Childhood and adulthood don’t have to be mutually exclusive. She can be mature and playful at different times.
8. Her eyes sank closed of their own exhausted will, and even though her cheeks were almost numb with the pain of smiling so much, the grin of deep contentment stayed plastered on her face. She told herself she was just resting her eyes—she was not going to fall asleep. She was too excited about what would happen at midnight.
-Setting up the safe, comfortable world in which she has grown up. She knows her place in this world, and when it is taken away, she struggles with trying to be an adult for real.
9. [She] felt guilty for being so excited for the part of the ceremony that came next—the part she’d been waiting for her whole life. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and said a silent prayer of thanks that her family was spared a loss once again this year. […] Then she thought heavily of the people she knew who had lost their loved ones this year.
-Shows a balance of compassion for others and a healthy level of self-interest.
10. She climbed up onto the nearest table, lifted her face and arms in triumph, and shouted, “Gaudiloquence!” It felt like coming home and going on an adventure, all at the same time.
-Shows how she enacts the meaning and importance of her name—speaking with joy.
TRUCK #3: Write the flap copy—a summary in 250 words.
In the village of Whigmaleerie, there is a magical story fire that holds the stories, memories, and names of its people—and the hopes and dreams of Monoria Erhvingaarde. In the midnight hour of New Year’s Day, thirteen-year-old Monoria and her peers fulfill their rite of passage into adulthood and receive their new, unique names from the story fire. Monoria—skinny and freckled, middle child, and natural storyteller—has become Gaudiloquence.
But her joy turns to fear the next morning when she awakens to find everyone in her village frozen and the story fire gone. The handsome brothers who visited Whigmaleerie and seemed enchanted by the story fire have disappeared.
On her own for the first time, Gaudiloquence must learn who to trust and who to go to for help. The Ministry, the highest power in the land, offers little assistance. If she is going to save her people, Gaudiloquence must do it herself. Along the way, she gains the help and friendship of a stray dog, a lovesick minstrel-turned-soldier, a one-handed sorceress, an eight-year-old spy, and a former soldier haunted by his past. Together they must recover the magical fire (now in the form of a sea-green orb) before it is destroyed—and the people of Whigmaleerie along with it.
Is Gaudiloquence’s storytelling more than just a quirk, more than a talent? Can she use the magic of stories to bring the frozen story fire back to life and save everyone she loves?
Holy cow, this was hard. Why was this so hard? And yeah, it’s not quite 250 words and it’s cheesy as heck, but whatever. It’ll work for now.
TRUCK #4: Make a bookmap of your novel.
-Monoria in Whigmaleerie. Happy, ordinary life.
-New Year’s Eve: Thirteen-year-olds receive their new names and Monoria becomes Gaudiloquence (Gaudé).
-Receives Name Day gifts. Meets Selva and Tagia (crush alert!) and shows them the story fire.
-Wakes up the next morning: story fire gone, everyone frozen, Selva and Taiga gone.
-Journeys toward Oneiric to get help, gets a ride from Psithurism.
-Checks into an inn and meets Anacreontic and her daughters. Tries to get in to see the magistrate and fails. Gets help from Anacreontic. Gets a letter from the magistrate allowing her an audience with the Ministry in the capital of Virid.
-Journeys to Virid with Psithurism. Checks into another inn. Goes to the Ministry and meets Manuduction and the ministers. Meets Rufescent. Ministry assigns her as the leader of the mission; gives her the assistance of Ampersand and Sinistra. Sneaks Rufescent into the inn.
–Gaudé leaves Virid with Rufescent, Ampersand, and Sinistra and they go back to Whigmaleerie to investigate. Find Celerity. Discover that the fire has changed form and Selva & Taiga stole it.
-Lessons in magic, self-defense, and history. Sinistra investigates Gaudé’s magical potential. Journey to Sparsile. Celerity discovers who Selva & Taiga are working for and where they went. Meet Fossick and convince him to join them.
-Write to Ministry. Discover Fossick’s haunted past and PTSD. Journey to Cynosure. Investigate Primifulous’ shop. Break in, steal orb, escape.
-Gaudé examines orb and discovers she’s descended from the Glossophiles. Selva & Taiga attack. Wakes up on a horse with Selva. Confronts him, steals the orb back, and rides off. Falls into the river and almost drowns. Sees the orb is damaged and starts telling a story to try to save it.
-Rides back to Whigmaleerie alone, still telling her story. Starts a fire in the forge to heat up the orb. Places it back where it belongs and reawakens the story fire.
-Wakes up at home and her parents tell her what happened: friends safe, Taiga in custody, story fire told them all what happened.
OK, this brings out obvious flaws in pacing and lack of obstacles, especially in the second half. Which is most of what Cecilanne and I talked about last week, so that’s good. Gives me perspective and a physical timeline of events to tweak.
TRUCK #5: The plot checklist.
The overall change my character experiences is: more independence and confidence in herself as an adult
My central action plot is: mystery.
-And that is: Where is the story fire and why is everyone except Gaudé frozen?
-The stakes are: the lives of the people in Whigmaleerie
-My subplots are: learning who to trust, friendships, discovering and developing her magic skills.
My central emotional plot is: Gaudé’s confidence in herself as an adult
-The stakes are: the success of her mission
-This change happens because: she meets lots of unhelpful people and has to learn how to get things done, and meets a few helpful people and gets some good advice
-The situation at the beginning: ordinary life in Whigmaleerie, Name Day ceremony
-The action starts when: she wakes up to find the fire gone and everyone frozen
-Then this happens: she leaves to get help
-Because of whose action: Gaudé’s
-Everything comes together when: she returns to Whigmaleerie and reawakens the story fire
-And then: parents tell her what happened while she was asleep
-The reader can tell things have changed because: here’s where I need to show her changed relationships with people
The point is: being an adult is harder than it looks, but it’s something you have to make happen for yourself
TRUCK #6: Answer the question “What is it about?” with a one-sentence thesis statement for your book.
I like that. “Being an adult is harder than it looks, but it’s something you have to make happen for yourself.”
TRUCK #7: Read it aloud—or better still, have someone read it aloud to you.
Workin’ on it!
TRUCK #8: [seems not to exist. What happened to it?]
TRUCK #9: Keep a copy of everything.
Thank you, Google Drive.
TRUCK #10: Give it time.
Good advice. Breathe. Enjoy the sunshine. Keep reading, keep writing. And have fun!