Thursday, May 13, 2010
A Trip Down Into The Revision Cave
Today, as you read this, I'm turning lobster pink at The Kiddo's Field Day. Yes, I forgot sun block. Yes, I also ('scuse me while I wallop this hawk-sized mosquito) forgot insect repellant. And no, I am not writing, even though I'm not at The Dayjob.
What I should be doing is spelunking into the bowels of The Revision Cave. I've stuck a pinky toe into that vast dark space, I've tightened the ropes and adjusted my lighted hardhat. Now all that's left is for me to get my nerve up, take a deep breath in, and then ... let go and drop.
I'm a great believer in revisions. The first guy who ever took a shine to me and to my writing told me, "Writing is rewriting," and he made me say it until I fell into a deep hynotic trance and actually began to believe it. (OK, I'm stretching it about the hynotic trance, but it's all for a good story.)
Revisions are never easy, mainly because, to do it right, you have to re-ENvision your MS. You have to look at it with the cold, uncharitable eye of the worst agent or editor you could ever query. You have to be willing to rip it to shreds and gut it like the trout that it is.
I am (just a touch) OCD about revisions, at least when I'm doing a total overhaul. Say, for instance, when I was transforming my women's fiction into a Superromance, and I sort of needed to get more romance into the novel. Gee, I wonder why?
I'd found a wonderfully slightly-OCD approach to revisions on a website by Beverly Brandt, an author who seems to love spreadsheets even more than me, if that's possible.
Her approach helps in that awful first step of revisions: before you can revise, you have to really see your novel, warts and all. And that's hard.
So that's what I've been doing with UP FROM ROCK BOTTOM. I wrote it for a series romance, but it's a little too gritty and too dark for category. I want to take advantage of that darkness and expand it into a single-title women's fiction.
First step is a scene-by-scene analysis, a la Beverly. It's easier than it looks, because you're mainly just skimming. But already I have found one glaring continuity problem that at least three people -- myself and two CPs -- overlooked.
No matter how many times I've done this, it's always scary to do it again. I mean, what happens if I take a good, hard look at my MS, and it's beyond salvation?
Still, It's only when you see what you've got that you see what you've not. And sometimes that's a good thing. Revision means playing up the strong parts and overhauling the weak ones until they're strong, too.
Besides, if I didn't do this, my CPs Tawna Fenske and Nelsa Roberto would call me a yellow-bellied coward, and Linda Grimes would never let me live it down.