Deb: Revision Intensive

So you’ve written that memoir. Or novel. Or story. Or that non-fiction piece that almost says what you want, but not quite. Maybe what you’ve written is a big sprawling mess and you know it needs work but you can’t imagine where you would start. Maybe you’ve written only a quarter or half and you’re stuck.

“For the first half of the composition of each of my novels I have been consumed by a sense of not knowing what I’m doing,” writes Pulitzer Prize finalist and National Book Award winner Alice McDermott. “And for the second half I have been consumed by the certainty that I know exactly what I am doing and should not be doing it.”

Bursts of exhilaration, pangs of uncertainty. I don’t know that anyone has properly diagnosed the condition of writers, those stalwart (stubborn?) artists whose addiction to the power of language and narrative overcomes the large frustrations of a process that’s tough to pin down. We get stuck, but we rarely give up. There’s this novel I’ve started, people say when they find I’m a writer. This story. This project. This book. I just don’t know where to take it from here.

That’s why we knew we needed a class like Revision Intensive: a place for writers to load up with fresh ways to look at their projects, to share their frustrations and break-throughs, to learn how the Great Ones get past the stuck points in their work.

Too often when writers get to revision, all they’re offered are checklists. Does your plot sag? Does your main character lose her verve? Does your ending tiptoe in, mouse-like? These lists point to problems, but they don’t help you solve them.

In Revision Intensive, we’ll discover how revision extends the organic work of writing, where the whole is more than just the sum of its parts. We’ll practice contracting and expanding our work to find direction and meaning. We’ll examine intention, rhythm, and tension as they flow through our work. We’ll look to the palpability and credibility of characters, be they fiction or non. We’ll probe our work for foreshadowing and leitmotiv, and we’ll sniff out continuity of tone. Each of us will bring our own uncertain pages, the ones we hope to resuscitate in and between classes. We’ll do the tough work of macro-revision before we get down to the more concrete stuff. We’ll make time to conference.

If that sounds like the boost your work needs, we’ve still got a few open slots in the course, which meets on two consecutive Saturday mornings, Oct. 23 and 30. Register today at

Scroll to Top