Thursday, December 2, 2010


On Saturday October 17, Elizabeth Lyon presented her workshop, The Power of Revision. The topic was Manuscript Makeover: From Rough Draft to Ready: Revision Techniques for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction. Elizabeth, who was the keynote speaker at the previous evening’s Literary Harvest, focused and expanded on these components of good writing: Movement (more than just action), revision for sound structure, characterization, voice and style.

Elizabeth talked about the etymology of original writing—what we learn and what we must do to break the pattern of conformity. A first step is to free oneself of one’s inner critic, which can stand in the way of original writing. She defined riff writing, comparing it to a musician’s riff, and said the story riff has pieces of melody woven into it. The purpose of riff writing is to free the writer from constraints, give our brains a focus to get past self-imposed restrictions. Elizabeth said we must know our characters and use multiple sources of movement to improve the pace of our story, increase suspense and deepen our characters. If we apply these techniques of creating movement, she said we will see our writing soar! She talked about scenes, which if effectively written can become characters in the story. It is important to reveal the goal at the top of the scene, and move/riff the character(s) through the scene as they face opposition and obstacles as they move toward the goal. The idea is to keep the reader hooked, continually engaged and looking forward to the next page.

Elizabeth based her workshop on her most recent book, Manuscript Makeover, which is available at Camalli Books in Bend. Her presentation was timely, fast-paced, and jam-packed with information every writer needs. Elizabeth conducts writing workshops nationwide, as well as speaking at conferences. She is a top-notch editor and writing instructor. We sincerely thank Elizabeth for providing us a day of learning and inspiration. To learn more about Elizabeth and keep updated on her schedule and adventures in editing, go to

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