When we use “wacky revision” tactics, we sometimes stumble upon a truth that was hidden from view in the usual order of things. One of the pieces below, written by Sofia, is a great example! Her original freewrite was about how to perform on stage. We’ve all read articles and paragraphs that teach us a set of principles to put into practice. Even when they are clear and well articulated, we may still glaze over due to information overload.
In this case, Sofia applied the wacky revision tactic of turning everything around into a lie. Unwittingly, she stumbled upon irony and humor! By framing the notion of how to perform on stage through the lens of lies, she set up a paragraph that mocks performance! Because of that mockery, the reader is thrust into complexity—turning the writing around to a positive in the imagination. Humor holds our attention, and the principles become apparent through negation. We see this online all the time. Some of the best articles about politics, for instance, make fun of politics. We remember them for their denying power and the humor they evoke.
Wacky revision tactics are not just about play. They are about generating insight, too. Stay alert for those brilliant moments that pop through the writing when it is conceived through a new lens.
Here is the writing from the writing workshop. The first piece is from my son, Judah (age 9). He had followed the freewrite prompt you suggested encouraging them to tell about an ordinary event, and he chose his morning routine:
I wake up in the morning and at 7:00 I get out of bed and go to my living room. I say hello to my dad and he makes breakfast and I eat it all up. After I do that I go and get dressed. Then I go and comb my hair and brush my teeth. After I do that I play Legos until mom says it’s time for school.
Here it is after the Scramble [revision technique]:
I wake up in the morning and at 7:00 I get out of bed and go to my living room to brush my teeth. After I do that I play Legos until mom says it’s time for me to go to my room. I say hello to my dad and he makes breakfast and I eat it all up. Time for school. After I do that I go and get dressed. Then I go and comb my hair.
He added words and punctuation here and there, like you suggested, to make the transition from line to line sound intentional. And now that I am thinking about it, he found that process really amusing. ?
The next piece is by my daughter, Sofia (age 7). It is a previous freewrite she wrote after she was in a play. I had asked her what advice she would give to a new actor and this was her response:
If you are new to the stage, you need to do your best. Smile big. You might not get the part you want, so be ready to do whatever the director tells you to do. Use your imagination. Acting on stage is tiring so get good rest before your show. You might fall down or go on the wrong side of the stage or forget a line, but just go on and keep acting no matter what. Skip to the next line that you know. Even if you don’t get the part you wanted, acting is really fun. I didn’t get the part I wanted and it was really fun for me!
She was really amused by your revision technique about “lying,” so we went over the piece doing just that:
If you are new to the stage, don’t give it your all. Do not smile, but just relax your face. You are going to get the part you want anyway. Don’t listen to the director, but do whatever you want. Do not use your imagination, but instead act mad. Acting on stage is no big deal, so you don’t need to get good rest before your show. Nothing will ever go wrong, but if it does, start crying and quit the play. Even when you get the part you want, acting is not fun! I got the part I wanted and it was boring!
We had a fun conversation about why someone might give this bad advice to a new actor and decided that it might be given to an actor who is auditioning for the same role as the advice-giver! That could be an interesting story to write in the future, and one she would not have thought of otherwise, so we were able to see the benefit of that revision tactic.
Lastly, I really like the concept that revision is “re-vision”….seeing again the piece of writing and giving it a new spin. I hadn’t thought much about editing being separate from revision, so I appreciated the clarification.
Thank you again for the writing workshop!!