Monday, January 23, 2012

Revision! EEK! (Not Really)

My editor sent me an email telling me she would be reading my manuscript next. Of course, nailbiting commenced. Sort of. My editor has a wonderful way of finding the weaknesses in my manuscripts and giving me time to fix them.

It's hard to be afraid about that. In fact, it's a good thing.

The problem most of us have when we get suggestions for revisions is a visual one. Seriously. We look at our "book" with the editor's suggestions in mind and we see a big blob (hundreds of pages) and a little blob (the editor's revision letter) and somehow we have to merge them.

The other problem we have is a disconnect between the agent/editor's comments and the real world of crafting.

As I say in my workshop CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED, there are seven reasons manuscripts get rejected or need revising, and all of them involve either STORY, SCENES OR WORDS. Because your story, your scenes and your words are the only entry points you have into your book. You tell a STORY with SCENES and you create SCENES using WORDS.

But editors don't use those terms. They don't say, Your STORY is weak. They say, the book dragged or was slow or...God forbid...boring.

They scare the snot out of us because story encompasses the ENTIRE BOOK. Story takes in every page of the book. And we think every ding dang page needs to change.

But that's not true.

If you'd sit down and write a one-paragraph story summary of your book as written, then look at the editor's comments and see how you can adjust your paragraph to incorporate her suggested story changes BEFORE you actually go into the manuscript and change'd see that fixing a slow or boring story usually involves beefing up one element of the story (in the story paragraph) and then finding the scene or scenes (or writing a new scene or two) where you can incorporate that change.

You wouldn't have to change the entire least not every page. Though you would have to be thorough and go back and make sure appropriate transitions and mentions are made to incpororate the new story element.

That's just the tip of the iceberg for ways and means to incorporate editor suggestions into a finished manuscript. I have an entire workshop of tips and tricks -- CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED. I'm giving it for the New Zealand chapter. Let me find the web addy...

But my point of this blog post isn't to advertise that workshop (though it fit in handily! LOL). My point is to tell you to take a breath. If you get a revision letter...or a rejection that points out a lot of errors in your manuscript and you WANT TO FIX THEM....there are lots of organized ways to revise.

You do not have to make a mess of things!
You do not have to worry about making things worse!
You can create a logical plan of attack, taking one item at a time.

And, if you recognize the editor has the best interests of the book in mind, it can even be fun.

Happy Monday!


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