Jun 27, 2011

reflections on the latest round of revisions

I've taken the week off of writing. It's been good, repairing my mind for what I'm sure is another long round of revisions ahead. Today I've very tentatively dived back into my work in progress. This poor novel has been set aside for several multi-week blocks, which has, I'm sure, affected it's rough draft quality. I've gotten to the point where I forget certain plot elements, so I have to go back and figure out what the heck my characters have been thinking/feeling for the past fifty pages.

So basically, for the past month, I've been laboring over revisions for GODMOTHER (not the title it will end up having, but I'll reference it as such for now) like a bat out of hell. Every time I wasn't at work at the coffee shop I was on my living room rug, agonizing over the placement of 54 or so odd scene cards. What came to pass was a third of the book being completely rearranged and rewritten. A lovely blog reader emailed and asked me what exactly these revisions involved. What did my agent have to offer me in terms of revision ideas that I didn't have the sole insight myself to implement?

Every book needs more than one person involved in the creative process. Well, every good book that is. Writers often become convinced that their plot, characters and prose are composed of complete awesomeness. It's a bit like horses wearing blinders. We only see certain aspects of the novel and ignore others. We needs beta-readers, critique partners, agents and eventually editors to help us see the flaws and know how to address them.

In my case, most of my revisions revolved around the development of a single character. This character, who was rather central to the book's overall plot, for some reason was refusing to cooperate with my efforts to make him a living, breathing person. Instead of being the three dimensional, in-depth person I'd hoped he would be, he read rather flat. For the life of me I couldn't figure out how to make this character leap off of the page like all of his other cohorts. Super-agent pointed out a few aspects in the books chronology that would help explore this character in depth. And what was only a sentence or two in the editorial letter became an extra eighty or so pages in the manuscript. Scenes were mauled, deleted and replaced. New scenes were written. Personalities and flaws were explored. There were many times in this process where I agonized over whether or not I was actually improving the book or destroying whatever charm it had in the first place. For some reason, I'm always terrified that deleting and rewriting scenes will destroy some unnameable quality that I'll never be able to recover. But, fortunately, that never seems to happen.

Oh, and more kissing. Agent wanted more kissing. But that was one of the easier fixes. ;)


  1. yay! I'm struggling with a proposed rewrite/combo of two major scenes and I think you nailed it when you said, you're worried it will destroy some unnameable quality. Must get over it ;)

  2. It's so true! And I've recognized this fear in me for every single time I've revised anything major. I think we just have to trust others sometimes and see what happens. It's usually, if not always, for the best.

  3. Your Super-Agent sounds seriously awesome! And good for you for plowing through and getting those revisions done. Personally, I like revisions more than I like drafting. The story comes so much more to life as the rough edges are polished away.