December 22, 2009

More On Revisions (Since I’ve Done My Share)

I’ve been reading on blogs that a lot of people have gotten revision letters lately, or rejections with revision suggestions, and since the topic is so near and dear to me, I thought I’d offer up some more thoughts on the subject.

Yes, it can be daunting to stare down the barrel of a revision letter. And my natural tendency is to want to jump straight in and tackle the bad boy head on. When I received my letters though, my crit group advised me to read the letter and give the points a day or two to really set in, and I think that’s good advice. It allows you to get some emotional distance and gives you the chance to analyze it a bit.

My next step, after really going over that letter, is to line out what points in the revision letter need to be applied to what things in the MS. I make a list of what things I think need changing based on the letter.

Example: if my revision letters says I need to make sure I don’t let my hero slip back into the ‘all-American guy’ character I had established him as in an earlier draft, I write myself a note that’s somewhat nonsensical but gets the point across to me, something like: Check Marco’s dialogue, watch out for slips out of character. Cut diner scene?

You get the idea. Anyway, anything to do with either character would probably get grouped together, and anything to do with plot, pacing, etc, would each get their own group.

Then I would pick one thing at a time to work on, like Marco’s character. It helped me to break it up so it didn’t seem seem so huge. Once I was satisfied I had taken care of the character issues I could then move on to pacing or whatever else it was I needed to work on.

As for the emotional aspect of the revisions, my best advice on that is to take a deep breath and realize that they don’t give revisions if they don’t see huge potential. The ed didn’t look at your MS and see a disaster, she saw the places you were capable of taking it. She saw that it could go from good to great, and editors are trained to really wring the great out of you!

I was just thinking I’m actually kind of excited to get my revisions for the new MS I submitted. Working through the revisions for HVA made it a million times better and I can’t wait to see what wonderful thoughts my editor has for making the next one even better.

So there’s a positive spin to revisions, you just have to look to see it. It isn’t about what they didn’t like, it’s about what they DID like. It’s about elevating every aspect of the manuscript so that it matches your strengths.

Do you have a special system for tackling revisions?


5 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. Thanks for another fab post Maisey. The timely reminder I really really needed!!

  2. It seems revisions are making the rounds…but I maintain they can be viewed as a positive! All part of the process. đŸ˜‰

  3. Great post, Maisey! I don’t have a special system but my best advice is don’t be afraid to rewrite. And if you have to revise your characters, don’t twist them to suit the plot you’ve already written. That particular fault killed one of my mss stone dead.

  4. Great tips on revisions, Maisey. I was lucky. When I got my first revisions I was on holiday, so I read the email but as I hadn’t taken my laptop along I couldn’t do anything about them for a couple of weeks. By the time I got home I had a much clearer (and calmer) idea how to fix the story.

    Merry christmas!

  5. Absolutely, Jackie. Rewriting saved my butt in the final round of revisions. 25K hacked and gone. Fresh, blank pages sitting in front of me and nothing to keep me in the box I’d written myself into. Again, there’s always a positive spin!

    Romy, that’s definitely the way to go. Although, Hyperactive, ADD leaning girl that I am, that long away from the laptop with a revision letter would have officially wrecked my head.

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