Friday, September 18, 2009

Writing: on doing revisions.

I'm not sure why I felt like blogging about my revisions for RAMPANT. Perhaps I need to mark my progress. Revisions are often done on a short turnaround, but I have enough time to comment on the process a bit as I go, so I thought I would -- for the record, and in case it's useful to anyone else.

Getting a revisions note is one of the scary aspects of being a writer, (some would say there are many scary aspects!) especially so because you've been anticipating this ever since you sent the completed book in, which can be a long period of time. It's also a great opportunity for the author and the book, and because of that it’s exciting. Scary *and* exciting, a potentially dangerous combo...

Image courtesy of Inkygirlcom.
I love getting feedback from anyone, good or bad, anything I can learn from is welcome. I learn constantly, from editors, readers, my CPs, reviewers. The challenge is: can I put what I learn into action? I hope so. I always study comments with the long haul in mind, as well as the current project.

Working with an editor is all about teamwork, the joint goal being the best possible book you can put out there. It’s still daunting. What if I don’t get it right? What I if miss the point or don’t make the most of this opportunity to improve the manuscript? When I turn it in, time is short before it’s set in stone. Improvements have to be made now and they have be made seamlessly.

I'd had a great response from my editor, with a few revisions. Regardless of the great response and the fact I was excited about working on it again, I was still scared I’d mess up. Once I dug in I enjoyed it, as I knew I would. The hardest part of any project for me is getting started.

As I said, the underlying goal for me when I do revisions is that I don’t just do them for this time, I learn from them for the future. So here is something I leaned about my writing process so far…

My editor said the reader needs to know the hero’s background and the bad guy’s background earlier. The info is all there, dripped in along the way, but it needs to be there sooner than I had revealed it. The main reason why I *think* I did it the way I had, (too slowly,) is that I live in total fear of the info dump. We so often see this as a problem for readers and reviewers -- books that don’t grab readers because the opening is an info dump. That puts the fear of the gods into me! So much so that my drip-feed of background info has perhaps become a bit too cautious, too slow.

Earlier in the week I gave more of the hero's background earlier. In the case of the bad guy, I confess I wanted a part of his back-story to be one of the twists of the book, one of the “oh my god, that's why he did that” moments. Even so, when I consider the editor’s comments “we need to know why he’s doing this much earlier” I know she's right. Besides, there are other twists at the end of the book, the bad guy’s main motive should be there much sooner.

So that is today’s job. Bad guy --> motivation revealed quickly, at the outset, but not in an info dump. :o) Gulp. Wish me luck!

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