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Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore
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Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  431 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Professional editor and author Elizabeth Lyon offers aspiring novelists the guidance and instruction they need to write and edit well-crafted and compelling stories that will stand out from the competition and attract the attention of agents and publishers, including:

- Stand-out style techniques, from accessing an authentic voice to applying techniques of "wordsmithing" th
Paperback, 347 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Tarcherperigee
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Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is my first choice (and then, her "A Writer's Guide to Fiction") for consulting "what I want/need to know" as I work on my MS revision. Also, whenever I take my writing with me travelling, this book comes with me!
If I could re-title this book, I'd call it Manuscript Makeover: Revision Checklists for Fiction Writers. Truly, the checklists at the ends of the chapters are the superstars here.

The rest of it feels very textbooky, which does not make for an engaging cover-to-cover read. Each chapter offers descriptions of various elements of storytelling, reflects upon different approaches you may have taken, and notes possible advantages and disadvantages of each. Then follows a checklist summarizing all tho
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A veritable goldmine of information for the writer at that very crucial next step, once he gets through the first draft: revision. Elizabeth Lyon takes us from "in the begining was the word" to "in the end you will have the edited m/s, the query letter and the synopsis". All the how-to's are very clearly laid out with good summary notes at the end of every chapter.

I took one of my unpublished novellas through some of her recommended exercises and decidedly saw the uptick in its vibrance. I shall
Nayad Monroe
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
This book is SO USEFUL. I've read a lot of writing books. I like them. But most of them are more helpful for beginners than for people who have been writing for several years. This one, by an editor, gets into more detail than other writing books I've read, covering everything from style to structure; edits at story level and sentence level; ideas for enriching plots and characters; submission format; and also how to write a query letter and synopsis. It's a guide for revising existing work, but ...more
Julie Ferguson
Jul 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't wait to finish this book to write a review.
"Manuscript Makeover" is simply the best book on fiction revision I have ever seen. Filled with practical tools to get to grips with all the challenges that exist in first drafts.

Novelists would be wise to buy it immediately and keep it beside their keyboards.
Just brilliant!
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it

Very good book with coherent and cogent examples and suggestions for writers of every level.

The structure of this book is exemplary in terms of letting a reader know if the section is relevant and useful, allowing anyone to find the trouble spots in their manuscripts AND great suggestions and hints on how to untangle and fix those as well.
Lisa Anne
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
4.5*s My copy of Manuscript Makeover is well-highlighted and flagged. As I read along, I made copious notes for revising my second and subsequent drafts of my current manuscript. I've read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, Revising Fiction, and Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for transforming your first draft into a finished novel. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses and I learned something from each book. But if I was to recommend just one book ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
Excellent book. Filled with good examples from a vast variety of real authors, from John Steinbeck to Danielle Steel to students work before it was published. The examples showed both what not to do as well as what to do. The book was structured really well and there were good exercises at the end of each chapter for those who look for that kind of thing. I really liked that there was a summary of each chapter at the end as well. For those chapters about things I feel I do well in my writing, I ...more
Blessy Mathew
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this writer’s craft book as a recommendation from a fellow writer. This will be an on going read. Lyons gives every writer practical techniques on how to approach revision and how to create a compelling story. She cites examples of what to do and what to avoid during the revision process. She discusses techniques to make a story compelling. She also suggests modeling the writing styles of award-winning authors. Her current knowledge on publishing trends is helpful to any writer.
David Edgar
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lyon manages to be respectful of writers at the same time she challenges us to go beyond ordinary editing techniques. When the spelling mistakes are gone, and the bad grammar and word usage are corrected, the polishing begins. Written in a clear and authoritative style, Manuscript Makeover gave direction to my editing like no other book on my shelf. Probably the best book on writing I have purchased.
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-books
WOW, WOW, WOW. This is an amazing book. I have read it and since it took me so long to read (so much to absorb), I am rereading some parts, maybe the whole thing. I give this book TEN STARS! I can hardly wait to share what I have learned with all my writer-friends. EVERYONE WHO WRITES SHOULD OWN THIS BOOK!
Rita Webb
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Tremendously helpful book. It has a lot of information that other editing books contain, but it also has new information as well as a new perspective that gave me a better understanding on things I needed to learn.

Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A good, straight to the point summary of all the basics of writing in one book. Helps out not just when revising but also when stuck in the middle of writing.
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure how many times I've read this book... at least twice cover-to-cover. Awesome reference. ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was recommended to me some time ago and now I understand why. Manuscript Makeover is one of the most useful how-to editing guides I’ve ever read. Author Elizabeth Lyon addresses both the big picture aspects of editing a novel and excellent detailed strategies to improve things like character development, narrative, dialogue, and so forth. She even offers great tips on punctuation usage. I especially like the helpful checklist at the end of each chapter.

The last section entitled ‘Market
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I rarely give five star ratings, but this book is just that good. It's not necessarily life-changing or . . . maybe it is, at least for this writer.

As it's subtitle says, the techniques outlined are techniques that shouldn't be ignored, although they aren't new and you've probably encountered them in any number of writing books or classes. But, what Lyon gives you is a compact reference for improving writing, for deepening characterization, structure, plot, etc. She also touches on copy editing
C.R. Sedore
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I highly enjoined reading this informative book. I believe every writer or published Author can benefit from this book. Revision is extremely important to improve your novel or short story.

I used this book to up my level of editing to save me on editing for my current story. I want to build a story better then my last. Just remember your readers deserve that. If you can do something that cuts off the price of your editing then you need this book and others similar.

I really benefited from the ch
Kimberly [Come Hither Books]
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
The part of this book I was ready for was invaluable, but a lot of it is for a level I don't think I'm ready for yet. This will be a book I need to read many times and take only a chapter or so at a time. But it showed me more places to grow and develop than any writing book I've read.

Recommended for writers who are confident in beginning craft and ready for more.
Mar 16, 2009 added it
Shelves: sampled
"Revise your truth. Harvest your emotions. Catch fireflies." ...more
K.F. Silver
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: craft, non-fic
I feel this book works best as a companion to other craft books. Specifically those on style and the more technical aspects of writing.

While this is easy to read, and the author presents their ideas in a clear, concise way, I do feel this is a book to put aside until the writer has completed a manuscript they are willing to revise. Be that a novel, novella, or short story. As the title suggests, this is a book on revision. Not how to start a novel, or even a how-to on specific aspects of craft.

Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Wow! I finished the first draft of my book and wanted some concrete advice on how best to revise it. This book has been just perfect! I found each of the chapters very readable, with excellent examples and lots of concise, but excellent advice. The gem is the checklists at the end of the chapters, which I have photocopied and am using to make it easier to refer to in the revision process. Without the chapter before each one, they would be hard to make full use of, but they do really encompass th ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
This offered lots of good techniques for fiction writers and used many helpful and clear examples throughout. I'm giving it three starts for an unfair reason -- I had hoped that more of what was here would translate into non-fiction writing. But much of it really is about building narratives of particular types. So, while the sentence-level advice might hold true across contexts, there was less here that I felt like I could otherwise mobilize than I'd hoped. That said, if you are looking for som ...more
Susan Mills
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Perhaps a bit clunky in its very methodical process, but other than that, a very useful handbook for revising the first (or 2nd or 3rd) draft of a novel. The author goes thru just about every aspect of writing a story — point of view, character development, plot, etc etc — breaking it all down into manageable components. I also appreciate the summary points at the end of each chapter to use as later reference. In its entirety, it is a bit overwhelming, but it does give one a sense of what it ta ...more
Zara West
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-tips
This is a power-packed book that lays out a detailed series of steps for revising your manuscript. I recommend it highly. I bought it as an e-book, but it would have been easier to use as a paperback. It is a book serious writers will return to again and again.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
This manual reviews some of the same revision techniques covered in other general books on writing but offers in depth guidance on how to do every type of revision.

A useful guide to have on hand when revising.
Read the other 4- and 5-star reviews. They're much more eloquent and erudite than I would ever hope to be.

Straight up, this book is a must-have for the serious fiction writer's library. Read it. Use it. 'Nuff said.
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Helpful on every single page. Relevant examples from all sorts of genres. Designed as a reference guide for easy referral. Unpretentious and kind. A great help for developing an editor’s instincts, while first protecting your creative sense of purpose.
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
A section-by-section guide to improving your manuscript. The edition I read had out-of-date information (courier as a font to use when submitting) but the revisions techniques seemed tried and true.

(Read as part of the Covid-let's-use-this-time-to-revise! project)
Sarah Rubin
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full of great writing technique, reminders of what all writers face, and much more. A book to keep and refer back to.
Abby Rose
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book gave me the courage to tackle my 145k manuscript after several months of letting it gather dust! I highly recommend it
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