Book Review: Second Sight

Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing & Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults was a book I picked up at the SCBWI Winter Conference in January after attending Cheryl Klein’s workshop on revision.

It took me a bit of time to get through it, but that’s because I took my time. I read 5-10 pages at a time and put it aside. I let my mind mull over what I read and how it impacted my manuscript.

Ms. Klein writes in a practical, user-friendly style. You feel like she is speaking directly to you as she guides you through:

  • what makes a good book,
  • the publisher relationship,
  • what a query letter should do,
  • character charts,
  • techniques for analyzing and revising,
  • getting to the heart of your emotional story, and
  • the quartet of plot, character, voice, & point.

I appreciated how she broke things down so that I could apply what she said to my own work. For example, when trying to get to the emotional heart of your story, there are four things to consider:

  1. Conflict, Mystery, or Lack: which model is your central plot and your subplots?
  2. What does the character want?
  3. Compulsion vs. Obstacles: The obstacles are the frontstory, but the compulsion is the backstory.
  4. Problem, Process, Solution: Each chapter should include a process step moving the story toward to the solution.

At the end of the book, she gives you 25 revision techniques and a final word on the author-editor relationship.

Definitely a book worth reading. And rereading.

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4 Responses to Book Review: Second Sight

  1. 4amWriter says:

    Great review. I’m especially interested in compulsion vs obstacles and how to differentiate the two in my own work.

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    That sounds like good advice for any novel, not just those for young adults and children!

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