Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Newbie's Thoughts on Revision

I'm almost through with the first round of revisions of my MG novel. It's amazing how the manuscript can provoke such extreme emotions from me as I read.

This is so cool! I wrote that?!! (grin, giggle, pat self on back)


What a load of garbage, bunk, drivel... and other words I may think but not write because I know my mother reads my blog.

And so I edit. I edit out the hundreds of "as she" that connect the dialog tags to a subsequent action. I delete unnecessary words that seem to creep into the manuscript uninvited. Words like "just" and "really." I send a long raspberry to the multitude of adverbs and redundant adjectives now missing from my chapters. I look at the new word count, and I'm amazed to see I've cut nearly 3000 words.

My husband says, "Be careful, you'll edit the life right out of it."

A whole new set of worries begin to form in my head. What if he's right? What if it was better before I tampered with it? What if I'm delusional to believe I could possibly write anything worthy of publication? "What if" land is rarely a good place to go.

I realize that I'm too close to my project to see it objectively, so along the way I've enlisted the help of two, trusted critique partners. One who critiqued each chapter as it was finished (thanks KW!), and one who is looking at the whole novel before I send it out (thanks DR!). The goal is to begin submitting this month (ooh, were those butterflies?).

I have to admit, I'm excited - but not stupid. I know the odds are tremendous against publication. I surf the forums and read the hopeful and sometimes frustrated posts of those in the trenches. I'm joining them soon, but my hope is I won't be there long. I delight in the "Good News" posts at Verla Kay. Maybe someday I can post there too!


Rena said...

It's amazing how many words you can cut out. Some of the best advice I've ever gotten is to put your ms away for a month, or even longer, and then go back and read it later. I wish I had that advice when I was first starting out. It would have saved me a lot of trouble!

Good luck with your story, Nora!

Chocolateer said...

Love your Yoda cheerleader :) Hey, I know I'm no editor, but I do get to peek at the manuscript at some point in time, right? Right?

Nora MacFarlane said...

Thanks, Rena! You're not the first to tell me to set it aside, but I hope to make the Firebrand Query Holiday deadline. If that doesn't pan out I'll set it aside for a couple of months and come back to it. Be sure to let us all know the release dates for your picture books. It looks like you have quite a few coming out soon.

Chocolateer: Hmmmm... can you follow the rules? You know, boundaries - those things you freely admit you gleefully ignore. (grin)

C.R. Evers said...

You go girl! What a great attitude. Yes, it's hard to get your stuff out there, but you know what!!! It's great that you know that publication is a long term pursuit and that you have a long term mindset. I think that is what sets apart the successful from the wanna-be's Sounds like you've got the fabric to have what it takes!!!!

Good luck with your revisions and stay tough! :0)

You be da' woman!


Nora MacFarlane said...

Thanks, Christy!

Bish Denham said...

One piece of revision advice I can give is to remove all those "thats" and "as ifs."

Good luck with your submission! It may be cliche, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. You go girl. Just remember to wear your most comfortable shoes.

Mary Witzl said...

This is truly eerie: I am doing the exact same thing you are doing; I have just pared 3000 words off my WIP. And my husband, who agrees it's too verbose, keeps telling me to save the original because I'll edit out all the quirkiness.

My favorite overdone word is 'just', but I'm big on 'rather' and 'really' too, and I have plenty of extra 'thats'. My conversation tags are thick as thieves; I save the tired old similes for my blog comments...

Nora MacFarlane said...

Bish and Mary - That's, thens, as if, just, really, as he...It's amazing how many were in the draft and much better the story reads without them. If I try to think about not writing them as I'm doing the first draft it slows me down. So I've decided as I write my next story I'm not going to worry about it. I'll fix things later. I keep all of my drafts, just in case I change my mind about changes.

Thanks for the support, all. It's nice to know I've got good company!

Kelly said...

Good luck with your submission! UGH! I so don't like revising, but it is so necessary!

Chocolateer said...

Wait, there are rules? What rules? ;)