Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Edits and Revisions - not the same animal

What I'm reading: Killing Fear, by Allison Brennan (hurry up and write more, Allison - this one catches me up)

What I'm working on: Revisions & Edits for Unexpected Danger and "Redshirted"

My Cerridwen editor emailed me last night that Hidden Fire has a release date -- May 8th.

We'll see when and what I get in the way of their final line edits. Normally, I don't get to see the entire manuscript again; if there are any changes other than typos or grammatical problems, my editor will send only those sections. I'll be curious to see if the baby line at the end survives.

My agent likes to do a complete edit job on a manuscript before she sends it out. The edits are the 'easy' part--dealing with technical fixes. I'm also getting used to her style preferences, and it becomes an issue of deciding whether accepting her suggestions will change my voice. With crit partners, it's easier to reject suggestions although (honest!) I consider them all. But an agent who should know what editor are looking for means her comments have more weight, at least in my mind. It's harder to disagree, but she's made it clear I'm not obligated to change things.

The tough part is dealing with revisions. These are the places where she says, "You dropped this thread too soon," or, "You need to show more of such and so." The fact that she hit on some things I wondered about when I submitted the manuscript tells me my instincts were right, and I need to fix them. But it's kind of like trying to add the chocolate chips AFTER you've baked the cookies. Adding something to chapter 1 can have an impact on things all the way through 'the end.' Is it better to throw out the imperfect batch of cookies and bake new ones, or melt the chips and use them to frost the original batch? Writing an entire scene from scratch seems easier for me than trying to weave new information into what's already there. Either way, it means making sure the continuity remains intact.

And, I had the pleasure of speaking with a multi-published mystery author who had expressed interest in my mystery short (tentatively called "Redshirted") and then spent an hour on the phone with me pointing out places where she'd stumbled. Those were edits. Easy fixes -- change a character's name, hair color, a bit of history. But some of her suggestions also require revisions -- "he solved the case too easily", "you wrote Charlie off the page too soon," etc. Those mean revisions. Rewriting.

More fun than taxes, though.


Macy O'Neal said...

Thanks for this blog, Terry. It's good to know that editing and revising aren't easy for anyone. I still have Cold Truth sitting in a file. Even though it won some contests, it needs some work. I workshopped it with DSM and I can see the holes. The "it's got to be rewritten kinds of holes."
Can anyone say "summer project?"

Katie Reus said...

Congrats on your release date and good luck w/ those revisions! I'm glad I'm not the only one who sometimes questions revisions. So far I've agreed w/ pretty much everything my editor has suggested, but I am a little nervous if the day comes when it feels like 'my voice' is being changed :) Keep us updated on the 'baby line' b/c ever since your other post about pregnancies, etc. in romances I've been curious what the final decision would be!

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, ladies - I'm getting a bit better about sticking to my guns with some of the style suggestions -- I mean, is it really possible to write a novel without using the words "was" or "had"? But I'm more alert to the places where there's a better way to say it, although sometimes the writearound is cumbersome and sounds ridiculous to my ear. It's also slowed my reading down because I keep looking to see how other authors use or avoid the construction. For now, I'll use the Allison Brennan defense, because 'was' and 'had' don't seem to be negatively impacting her sales.

As for the baby thing -- my editor said she left the line in and will leave it up to the final line editor. I did point out that she'd allowed an entire scene with thoughts of babies earlier in the book to get by with nary a comment. I'll have to wait and see if there's some overwhelming dictum from above that prohibits references to thinking about planning a pregnancy. If there is, I'll have some thinking to do.