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:~: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 :~:

The Wicked World of Revisions

I've decided that the better your writing gets, the harder it is to revise.

I wrote Hiding In Plain Sight about a year and a half ago. It was a Golden Heart finalist this year. Whoo-hoo! But it's also been rejected by 7 different houses. Boo-hoo!

I've rewritten and revised the ms about ten times (no, I'm not exaggerating). The last big rewrite happened just before I sent it to my agent, who then sent it out to publishers. Hence, the 7 rejections.

Are we having fun yet?

Before we send it out to the other 7 or so houses that take romantic suspense, we gathered up the rejections and took their comments to heart. After my agent and I covered all the comments and strategized modifications, I started on the revision trail. Yet again.

Whose idea was this whole WRITING thing anyway?

I'm currently in a class with Margie Lawson through KOD called Empowering Characters Emotions. I've only been in the class a week, and I can already tell it's going to be so much more than simply addressing character emotions in my writing. In fact, the amount of information I've already gotten, and will continue to get according to the schedule of topics she posted in the beginning of the class, is mind-boggling. Even overwhelming.

And because I'm so compulsive (a.k.a. driven) to improve my writing skills, I typically participate in an average of 2 classes/courses/seminars per month. This month I happen to be in 3. Calculate that out over the last six months, during which time I didn't even look at Hiding In Plain Sight, and you'll see the chore I'm up against with revisions.

So, I've got these new skills in my head, and I find myself looking at all my work differently. Are those mannerisms and that dialogue consistent with the character? How can I make this one and that one different? Did I put enough emotion in that passage? Too much? Is the wording fresh? What exactly is fresh, anyway? Fresh to me or fresh to someone else? And if I change this plot point or shift that action, how many places throughout the story does it touch and change? Did I get them all? Am I creating new holes? Filling old ones?


See, now if I didn't know all this new ... stuff ... I wouldn't be twisting my brains, and I'd be MUCH happier about revisions. Changes? Sure! No problem! I'll have the whole thing done in a couple days.

Now it takes me a couple days to get through a couple pages. And I can't even see the changes for all the blood I've spilt. Isn't there some famous quote regarding blood and writing? Didn't it have something to do with gushing from your eyeballs and dripping from the hair follicles? Because that's about how much fun I'm having right now.

I've got to do them. Usually I don't even mind them. Sometimes I even look forward to a chance to deepen my work. But as God as my witness if this manuscript doesn't sell after I've put my blood down on paper...

Okay, so everyone share their revision stories. And don't even THINK about commenting if you breeze through them! Okay, you can comment, but only if you share your secrets!!


Blogger Linda Winfree said...

OMG, J, I'm so with you. Guess what I'm currently staring at, asking the same questions?

If I change this backstory to strengthen the internal conflict, it changes XYZ.

If I rewrite this part of the plot, it changes QRS.

Oh. My. Heavens.

Just smack me for considering this rewrite!

6:11 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Consider yourself smacked. Now I need one of my own.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post hit particularly close to home considering I'm in the middle of my second revision on a second manuscript in the past 6 weeks! Ack! Shoot me now!

Here's what I've learned that's helped me. I pull up my ms and pull up a blank document page. I split the screen and scroll through the ms, typing in the blank document screen what happens in each scene. I find the split screen works best because I can't concentrate on wording, and that's good because that's not what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm trying to decide if each scene advances the plot, the romance and the suspense.

Then I hack away and cut scenes, rearrange scenes.

Then I do it all over again, with each paragraph, then each sentence. EVERY word, paragraph, and scene HAS to advance the story.

After almost five years of writing, I just discovered this. Have I been living under a rock, or what?

Joan, I feel your pain, because I'm bleeding buckets over here.

Good luck!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

I am only on my own deadline for revisions, but it took winning one contest with a first draft and falling way short of finaling in two others after revising to realize my first draft cut to the meat of the conflict and the revisions alluded to it. So I went back in and rewrote the first two chapters and LOVE the changes. Now I hope the agents and one editor I sent it to do!

This story I have also rewritten the ending after a pubbed chapter member read my synopsis and made suggetions.

I haven't found any easy way to do revisions. I just have to come to grips with myself that it needs rewritten then dig in.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...


That has to be the first time I've ever heard anyone say their first draft was better than the revisions! That's amazing. Although I have made changes based on comments from others and realized after the fact that I shouldn't have made them and gone in to change it back again.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Oh, man. This is so fitting. I'm staring at an editor request for a full of a manuscript that has been rejected by every agent that's read it. And I'm now wondering why the hell I even sent the damn synopsis to this editor.

I'm playing ostrich as someone I know likes to say. :) Argh. I know as soon as I look at it I'm going to start making changes. And I KNOW revision hell sucks big time.

I feel (boy, do I) your pain.

9:10 PM  

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