Writing Book Review: Second Sight by Cheryl Klein

Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young AdultsSecond Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The market is saturated with books about the craft of writing and the nuts and bolts of selling, publishing, and marketing your work. But in too many of these resources, revision gets relegated to a passing mention, something along the lines of, “After you’ve finished your revisions,” or “Then revise!” For many beginning writers, revision can be a major stumbling block — they might know it’s needed, but where to start? And just as importantly, where to end?

Cheryl Klein’s “Second Sight” is a welcome addition to the writing canon that fills that gap. It is JUST about revision. In this book, writing the first draft and publishing are relegated to passing mentions. I am a “first-draft” dreader — I much prefer the process of revision to getting a story out for the first time. So even though I feel as if I’m fairly good at knowing what needs to happen when I go in for a second, third, or sixth draft, this book was full of insights and ideas to refine my process further. And for those who feel at a loss about where to begin with this whole revision thing, this book could be a godsend.

It helps that Cheryl Klein, senior editor at Arthur Levine books, prefers to edit the types of books I also prefer to read and write, so at some points it felt like she was “reading my mind” in terms of what was important about storytelling. She is also clearly passionate about what she does and ambitious about doing it well, which is very inspiring. Although the book is tailored to children’s writing, I think a lot of its tips could be applied to other fiction as well. But if children’s literature is what you write, I strongly suggest adding this book to your arsenal. I look forward to using its techniques to return for a fourth go at my middle grade novel, which has sat “stuck” for years in that awkward place between frequent rejections and me being at a loss about what might be wrong with it. Thanks to this book, I now have a much better idea of what my next steps should be, and I can’t wait to take them.


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